NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A program started by a group of residents to reduce crime in the French Quarter, faced an uncertain future because of funding issues. But now comes word that some last minute donations and a little help from the City of New Orleans, will keep the French Quarter Task Force in operation.
If you've been to the French Quarter lately, you've probably seen an off duty officer traveling around on a Polaris vehicle. The French Quarter Task Force is behind the operation, providing extra security to residents and tourists alike.
Michael Harrison, manager of Café Pontalba, says, "Obviously I think any greater presence of uniformed officers is going to be a deterrent to any crime in the area."
A lot of people feel that way, so Bob Simms, of the French Quarter Management District, explains, keeping the task force running, is a must. With long term funding uncertain, he and businessman Sidney Torres, turned to city leaders.
Simms explains, "When we had the meeting on Monday, we had the Chief of Police there, we had Commander Walls there and the Mayor simply asked everybody, is this working? And everybody said yes, this is working."
Simms says the city committed to help fund the work of the task force through the end of the year. But first, Torres, whose paid for the operation thus far, successfully solicited donations from business leaders to keep the program a float until the city can help out in a couple months.
"Because it's working, we want to keep it going forward," Simms said.
Although the task force has only been around for two months, Simms says its yielded incredible results. In fact, he believes those positive results helped influence the city's decision to invest in the initiative. "In the first seven weeks we addressed over 1,400 calls. Over 80 arrests we've helped NOPD with, several guns and knives taken of the street," Simms said.
In October, voters will decide on a proposal for an additional quarter cent sales tax in the quarter. Simms explains, some of that money will help fund the task force. "The actual sales money is going for the troopers, but there's an add on match from the Convention and Visitors Bureau to pay for this," Simms explained.
A city spokesperson wouldn't say specifically where the money will come from between now and October to pay for the task force except to say the administration will continue to look for additional funding generated from visitors.