In the summer, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and city officials announced plans for a uniformed, unarmed security force in the French Quarter to free up New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers to handle more serious crimes. "NOLA Patrol" would respond to traffic, sanitation and other quality-of-life issues, all under the command of the NOPD's 8th District.
At its Nov. 6 meeting, the New Orleans City Council passed three ordinances to implement NOLA Patrol. French Quarter groups largely support the measure, which they say will address quality-of-life issues in the neighborhood, from improperly permitted T-shirt vendors to mule droppings and traffic.
"We change the environment, we change the safety," said Gail Cabot of the French Quarter Management District, who also said "grunge" punks with "mangy dogs that scare tourists [are] everywhere."
"You have to walk in the middle of the street to get away from them," Cabot said.
"It's a fragile neighborhood," said Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates (VCPORA) Director Meg Lousteau. She said the recent building collapse in the 800 block of Royal Street refocused attention on the area, which she characterized as a "Wild West atmosphere" with "no consistent enforcement."
NOLA Patrol calls for 50 officers to patrol the Quarter. They will be paid for by a newly created French Quarter Improvement Fund, which does not take any monies from the city's general fund. The patrol will be paid through a cooperative endeavor agreement between the city and the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
NOLA Patrol also is intended to serve as a "recruitment pipeline" for NOPD. The program will be open to recent high school and other graduates, and the 50 full- and part-time employees will be introduced to NOPD policies and procedures. Annual salaries for NOLA Patrol officers begin at $25,000.