N.O. takes another look at controversial crime camera program

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 29, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 30 at 7:49 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- The Landrieu administration wants to resurrect the much-maligned and often-litigated New Orleans crime camera program.

Today, the cameras hang on utility poles across the city. They are monuments to technology that never really worked and the legacy of corrupt public officials and an imprisoned city vendor.

In seven years, the network of more than 200 crime cameras only solved a handful of crimes.

The city inspector general determined $4 million was wasted on the program.

"It's a joke," said one Central City woman who didn't want to be identified. "There was a murder in the neighborhood and first thing all the homeowners, everybody was saying the cameras got everything. The camera didn't have a thing. The cameras are just a fake joke of tax payers money."

Mayor Mitch Landrieu pulled the plug on the cameras shortly after taking office two years ago.

Now, he and Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas are talking about reviving the program.

"It would probably be about 50 cameras we would put up if it was approved in high crime areas," Serpas said. "We'd use a lot of crime analytics to figure that out."

Serpas agrees the old cameras were little more than window dressing.

He said the city would invest in a new system with proven results in other cities.

"It would contemplate that it would be technology that is state of the art," Serpas said. "It would be technology that would be supported with maintenance. It would be technology that could make a difference in helping us in fighting crime in New Orleans."

Back in Central City, one woman said the cameras can only be a deterrent in her neighborhood, if they work.

"Fix them, make them workable as soon as possible," she said. "If you can get traffic cameras to work for tickets in a car, that's important. This is important also."

It will be a while before the crime cameras return.

Serpas said the program will be included in his budget request for 2013.

It's also included in Landrieu's "NOLA For Life" crime-fighting initiative.

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