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Monday, January 23, 2017

Landrieu calls for expanded surveillance, strict bar rules under citywide crime plan

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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A sweeping surveillance plan calls for 200 cameras throughout several New Orleans neighborhoods, while New Orleans bars will have to close their doors (but not close for the night) at 3 a.m. as a network of law enforcement tightens pedestrian traffic. The rules are part of a citywide plan from Mayor Mitch Landrieu with the cooperation of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), Gov. John Bel Edwards, the Louisiana State Police (LSP), the FBI and members of the New Orleans City Council.

The $40 million plan adds surveillance cameras to 20 "hotspots" through the city to be monitored by NOPD, as well as license plate readers at more than 100 intersections, "remote sensing technology" to detect weapons, and bomb-sniffing K-9 units. Bourbon Street will be pedestrian-only for major events and will go permanently pedestrian-only when the city finalizes a traffic plan, likely within four to six months. Bourbon Street will also have more lighting.

"When you go on Bourbon Street, everything you do will be seen," Landrieu said at a press conference Jan. 23.  "Do I need to let that sink in?"

Camera "hotspots" — not including cameras from security districts that also will feed into NOPD — also include parts of Algiers, Behrman, Central City, the CBD, Florida and Desire, Gentilly, Hoffman Triangle, Hollygrove, the Lower 9th Ward, Mid-City, Milan, New Orleans East, St. Thomas, the 7th Ward, St. Roch and St. Claude neighborhoods. The cameras will feed into a 24-hour command center stream. Bars also will be required to have outward-facing security cameras that also will be fed into the stream.

Landrieu announced the plan as New Orleans prepares for two major events — the NBA All-Star weekend, which will attract 172 LSP officers, and the weekend leading up to Fat Tuesday, which brings in 165 additional officers. (Jeff Sallet, FBI's agent in charge, said the state's 67-member terrorism task force does not "have any specific threats" to either event.)  "Assume you're going to be on camera wherever you are," Sallet said.

Also speaking in support of the plan were state Sens. Conrad Appel, Karen Carter Peterson and J.P. Morrell and New Orleans City Councilmembers LaToya Cantrell, James Gray, Susan Guidry, Nadine Ramsey and Jason Williams.

NOPD's surveillance also extends to the installation of license plate readers at locations throughout the city, according to the NOPD's Jonathan Wiseby, who presented parts of the plan to the City Council's Criminal Justice Committee Jan. 23. (Wiseby said NOPD will purge unused data 180 days after it's collectied if there's been no investigation, so it won't become a “repository of data for things to do their ill will with it.")

"Under this new plan, we're expanding the toolkit and bolstering our preparedness," said Harrison, who also announced 300 take-home cars for NOPD officers and greater use of the Orleans Parish Sheriff Office's mobile booking unit.

Bars citywide will have to close their doors at 3 a.m., though people can still go in and out. Harrison said closing doors allows NOPD to "sweep the streets" without people hanging outside the bars.

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