NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A New Orleans businessman, fed up with crime, is paying off-duty NOPD officers to patrol the French Quarter. Sidney Torres is working with the French Quarter Security Task force to improve safety in the city.
Ryan Misuro walks eight blocks home every night from his job at Roux Royale on Royal Street. "I don't carry mace, I just make sure not to walk with my headphones on, and I try not to carry a lot of money around with me," Misuro said.
Starting next month, three more sets of eyes will keep watch over Misuro's route, thanks to Torres.
"He is the guy who gave us the sprout to really put this French Quarter patrol in place," said Bob Simms, with the French Quarter Security Task Force.
After a frightening break-in at his French Quarter home, Torres hasn't shied away from criticizing the crime situation in the city. In an effort to help, he reached out to the French Quarter Security Task Force with an idea. He wants to mimic the plan to hire off-duty NOPD officers to patrol Bourbon Street, and open it up to the entire Quarter. Torres isn't just providing the funds for the initial phase, he also developed a special smart phone app for the public's use.
Simms explains how it works, saying, "The first thing you do is you hit report crime, it's gonna ask you where you are, you pick the street you're on, you pick the cross street you're on, and then you put in the type of thing you might be seeing."
You can add a picture or just a short description. Then, Simms says, "That will go directly to the people on patrol."
The three off duty officers will travel around on Polaris vehicles, equipped with blue lights, NOPD decals and sirens.
"So people are going to know the cops are around? Good, can't be enough of those guys," Misuro commented.
Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Donovan Livaccari says, "We just need to make sure that we recognize that these are band aid efforts and we really need to keep our eye on the ball which is to renew the manpower to adequate staffing in the police department."
Livaccari praises the private sector for stepping up while NOPD recruitment efforts are underway because he believes it'll take years to get staffing levels back up to where they once were.
The French Quarter security patrols will begin March 15th. According to Bob Simms, Sidney Torres is paying for the effort through May, then, funding is up in the air.
The separate Bourbon Street patrols will begin in early April.