New surveillance video points out some of the challenges that remain in tackling violent crime in the French Quarter. It's a problem that continues to worry business owners who met Tuesday to consider new security options.
It happened Saturday a week ago, at 4 a.m. A gang of five men run up on a 25-year-old victim in the 100 block of Iberville using cars and trees as cover. They smack him in the head with a pipe or a stick, then rob him.
The incident happened in spite of the presence of about 50 extra state troopers.
"Making a place safe involves a lot of people," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
In fact, the French Quarter Management District met again to discuss hiring additional officers. A source says the State Police commitment to remain in New Orleans through November has bought the district a little time to work through myriad issues, including cost. But the mayor says more help may be on the way if a November vote to raise taxes comes through.
"What we're talking about today is finding the resources to hire 1,600 police officers," Landrieu said.
That would be roughly 500 more officers than are currently on the force, a number that would require at least 15 new recruit classes like the one that started Tuesday - the second this year. At the current rate, it could take six years to train that many officers, so the French Quarter continues to investigate the possibility of it's own special security force.
Then there's the issue of insurance. The Management District is taking the extra time to study what their liability might be if one of their hired guns is sued while working one of their details.
Tourists we spoke with in the Quarter today showed some concern.
"It's a little scary. I saw hyperdermic needles," said Noel Muller from New Jersey.
But on Tuesday afternoon, State Police were seen frequently, and there were few complaints.
"No problems so far. New Orleans is a good city," said Callum Maade of Australia.
In the meantime, the five suspects from last week's robbery remain on the loose.
In addition to the November millage election that could fund hundreds of new police officers, Landrieu has proposed a NOLA Patrol program that would be built around 50 civilians hired by the NOPD to help deal with non-emergency issues in the Quarter. That program would be funded through a new assessment on hotel fees that's now being collected by the Convention and Visitors Bureau.