HAPPENING TODAY: New civilian patrol hits French Quarter streets - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

HAPPENING TODAY: New civilian patrol hits French Quarter streets

(Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune) (Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

The French Quarter gets an added layer of protection on Monday as 20 members of a new civilian police force take the streets.

NOLA Patrol will handle quality of life issues in the French Quarter. They're trained to handle a number of non-emergency issues like traffic enforcement and loitering. New Orleans police hope the new patrol will free NOPD officers to deal with more serious issues.

Members of NOLA Patrol will wear uniforms, but their uniforms will be different than NOPD officers. They will not be armed.

Following five weeks and 200 hours of training, the NOPD recently graduated 20 members of the group.

The program was proposed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu last year and approved by city council in November. Funding for the patrol comes from the city's hospitality industry in the form of a voluntary hotel tax.

The program has stirred controversy. Supporters say the patrols will help deter crime by adding more uniformed security presence, while critics argue the focus should be on hiring more armed officers.

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.

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