NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - In neighborhoods across New Orleans, you can’t help but notice the flashing lights and cameras mounted on poles. It’s all part of the city’s Real-Time Crime Center that opened in November of last year.
“By far, the majority of the cases are, this armed robbery just came out. It picks up the cameras in that area, and a technician is told the look at the cameras,” said city Homeland Security Director Collin Arnold.
There are 251 cameras throughout every district in the city. Most of the cameras are in the French Quarter. Some, though, are positioned in more desolate areas where people are illegally dumping.
“We made our first intervention on Friday. One of the cameras Uptown caught people dumping an entire pickup truck full of junk on the road, and they were issued summons,” Arnold said.
“There is no home invasion victim or fender bender participant who wants to wait an hour because an officer went to an illegal dumping site,” Councilman Jason Williams said.
The city’s Homeland Security Office, which oversees the Real-Time Crime Center, said the cameras are used for much more than crime.
“I’m telling you, we’ve used them for weather. We’re going to have cameras at all the traditional underpasses that flood, so that once the water starts collecting, we can visually see it,” Arnold said.
That information will then be passed on to the Sewerage and Water Board and the Department of Public Works. Arnold said the cameras can also help if there’s a fire or mass casualty event.
“EMS has also asked for film before. There’s critical infrastructure and public works. There’s a lot of use for these cameras besides just law enforcement,” Arnold said.
He said 70 cameras and call boxes will soon be installed throughout the Lafitte Greenway. Those cameras can even help determine when the grass needs to be cut.
Right now, 19 people work in the Real-Time Crime Center, and the current budget for the center is $1.9 million. Homeland Security is asking the City Council for an additional $1.9 million next year.