NEW ORLEANS – There will be more lighting in the French Quarter, much of Bourbon Street will be closed off to vehicular traffic during busy times, bars will be forced to close their doors at 3 a.m. and there will be additional crime deterrence measures in other ‘hot spots’ in the city as part of a $40 million plan to keep the city safer.
Governor John Bel Edwards, Mayor Mitch Landrieu along with law enforcement leaders announced the additional security measures, as well as proposed changes, at a press briefing Monday.
The move comes as the city prepares to host several major events in the coming weeks, including the NBA All-Star Game and Mardi Gras.
Gov. Edwards said 173 additional uniformed State Police officers would be in the city for the All-Star weekend, and 165 additional officers would be in town the next weekend prior to Mardi Gras.
In the Quarter, there will be moves to make several blocks of Bourbon Street a pedestrian area with large blocks known as ‘bollards’ to prevent vehicles from getting into areas where the public congregates.
There is also a plan for more lighting and to have bars close their doors at 3 a.m. People can still come in and out of the bar after 3 a.m., but the door must be closed behind them. This would apply to all bars throughout the city. That plan would require an ordinance and approval of the city council.
Landrieu said the move did not mean the bars would be closed for business, but the doors would be closed to prevent the 'free and open flow' in and out of the bars.
The move would be combined with 'sweeps' of Bourbon Street, in an attempt to keep people off of the streets and inside of the bars until they are ready to go home.
Landrieu said the future plan is for several blocks of Bourbon to be pedestrian only on a permanent basis, however, until a new traffic plan can be implemented, that would only happen during busy event times.
In addition, Landrieu said extra lighting, infrared cameras and more security would ensure that everything can be seen.
"When you go on Bourbon Street, everything you do will be seen," said Landrieu. "Do I need to let that sink in?"
Gov. Edwards said public safety is the number one priority in the state of Louisiana.
The plan includes 300 new police cars to be taken home by NOPD officers who live in New Orleans. There will also be a mobile booking unit for big events.
There will be an additional 20 security cameras around the city in hotspots and license plate readers at more than 100 intersections to help track criminals.
The City increased the NOPD’s budget to $150 million for 2017, which includes $11 million for overtime, new license plate readers, and more than 20 new civilian positions. Previous investments in a new online electronic police reporting system will help reduce NOPD manpower pressures by allowing individuals to get online police reports for minor infractions such as lost or stolen items, non-injury car accidents, and more.
The NOPD will also unveil stronger enforcement of the City’s new false alarm penalty laws, which seeks to reduce unverified burglar alarms even further.
The investments unveiled today include:
- Over 200 new high-definition, public security cameras and signage in 20 hotspots;
- Over 100 new license plate readers, deployed citywide;
- A 24/7 real-time Command Center, into which the cameras, license plate readers and other technology will be monitored;
- 300 new police take-home cars to improve visibility for NOPD patrol officers who reside in Orleans Parish;
- Use of the OPSO Mobile Booking unit to reduce taking officers off the street for arrests;
- Adding K9 units with gun and bomb-sniffing potential to deter illegal possession of firearm detection and terrorist activity;
- Remote sensing technology on Bourbon Street to assist officers in illegal possession of a firearm detection;
- Hardening street infrastructure and pedestrianizing Bourbon Street with bollards during certain times to prevent a Nice or Berlin-style attack; and
- Brighter LED lighting in the Vieux Carré, which had previously only been used citywide.