ProjectNOLA pitches controversial plan to reduce French Quarter crime

ProjectNOLA pitches controversial plan to reduce French Quarter crime

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - With rising crime concerns in the French Quarter, one group proposes monitoring surveillance cameras in real time.

"We have probably upwards of 75 cameras between the French Quarter, the Marigny, the Warehouse District and the CBD area," said ProjectNOLA founder Bryan Lagarde.

ProjectNOLA cameras have proven to help detectives solve crimes. But preventing them is of chief importance to the NOPD.

Lagarde pitched an idea to the department that involves having volunteers monitor the footage as it comes in. "It's going to be no different though, from person to citizen, a regular everyday person looking out the window, seeing something, going and calling 911 - except the volunteers will be in the police station," Lagarde explained.

Hypothetically, a nearby officer would respond to the incident right away. Volunteers could also alert officers to suspicious-looking activity on the cameras.

French Quarter resident Bob Simms is a big fan of surveillance cameras but doesn't agree with Lagarde's pitch saying, "I don't like monitoring cameras in real time, I don't think that's a good thing."

Simms is most concerned about who would be watching the footage. Lagarde contends only vetted volunteers who go through background checks would be considered. And the volunteers wouldn't have access to archived video - only the real-time footage. "They're going to have to be people that the detectives are comfortable with, working with them, side by side, people who are going to be able to not leak details of police investigations, things of that nature," Lagarde said.

Still, residents we spoke to seem split on the idea. Some say increased crime in the Quarter is downright scary and they wouldn't mind an extra set of eyes keeping tabs on things. "I think it's going to take a whole lot of different avenues to be able to help make it better," Stacy McCurry said.

Others, like Orchid Chamblee, prefer privacy. "I don't want to be watched by someone…I don't know," Chamblee said.

When asked about the likelihood of this idea becoming a reality, a spokesman for the police department says it hasn't committed to anything at this time.

If it does happen, the monitoring would take place inside the Eighth District station in the French Quarter.

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