After this morning's press conference, in which 13 French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny resident and business associations met the press to petition for immediate action on crime in those neighborhoods, NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley held a press conference of his own.
Associated Press (via WWL-TV):
New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley says the French Quarter is safer than it's been in years.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley said crime is not out of control in the French Quarter.
"The perception (is) that crime has gotten so bad in the Quarter. It's safer than it's ever been in the Quarter," Riley said. "There is less crime. Again, we are not claiming success. We're simply saying that progress has been made."
NOPD statistics show that the total number of crimes in the Quarter have decreased. In 2004, there was a total of 4,220 crimes, compared to 2,252 in 2007 and 2,153 in 2008.
Nevertheless, Riley said he plans on beefing up police presence in the Quarter. Right now, there are around 130 police officers, and he plans on adding 17 to 18 more.
Several members of the umbrella group Meeting of the Minds, which held this morning's citizen press conference, refused to comment on Riley's claims, saying they'd prefer to respond after a promised meeting at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow with the chief and representatives of the NOPD.
CoCo Paddison, president of French Quarter Citizens, one of the groups represented this morning, watched Riley's press conference on the 5 p.m. news. She told Gambit, "I'm disappointed. It's like he wasn't listening and didn't take us seriously. He can say these are petty crimes, but as [newly elected District Attorney] Leon Cannizzaro told us, there isn't a violent offender that appeared before him when he was a judge that didn't start out with petty crimes."
Chime in, Gambiteers! Do you think the Quarter is safer than it's ever been? Tell your stories in the comments, please.