If people agree to pay, extra FQ patrols could begin in 1 month - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

If people agree to pay, extra FQ patrols could begin in 1 month

French Quarter business owners and residents discussed a plan to boost security in the area, and while all agree they want to feel safer, some aren't on board about having to foot the bill.

At a Thursday meeting at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, residents talks about crime and depleted NOPD manpower. Eighty-two officers have left the department since the first of the year, and the situation in the Quarter isn't getting any better.

"Deterrence is more important than anything else, and we need a visible police presence," said Robert Waters with the French Quarter Management District.

There were 400 crimes in the Quarter in June alone, including 14 robberies and 36 assaults, and residents are now being asked to consider a plan that could see some pay as much as $200 a month in a trial central French Quarter corridor extending from St. Ann Street to Esplanade Avenue.

"We're looking to get this signed up in the next couple of weeks," said Bob Smith, also with the Management District.

Some residents wondered why they were being told to foot the bill for a department that they believe should have a surplus due to the manpower shortage.

"Not everyone sees $50 a week as insignificant," one woman said. "I think businesses should step up."

Others worried that if they hired as many as three extra officers a night, the department might deploy regular troops elsewhere.

"How can we be assured that you're not going to start scheduling regular officers somewhere else?" one man asked.

"If we can increase manpower anyplace, it will be visibility issues," said NOPD Cmdr. Jeffrey Walls.

The Management District is proposing a six-month trial period for the enhanced security program.

"We want to get it in place in one area, and see if we can make a difference," Waters said. "We live here because we want to, and I think the residents are willing to create safety for themselves."

The program is on a fast track, with interested residents being asked to sign up now. If the Management District gets 30 percent participation, it will try to launch the enhanced patrols in one month. That is when State Police troopers currently assisting NOPD will leave.

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