NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - In three weeks, French Quarter residents will head to the polls to consider passing an additional quarter cent sales tax, meant to fund the French Quarter Task Force. In the meantime, residents are coming together to raise money for the mission, they say, is putting a huge dent in crime.
What a difference nine months makes. Today, French Quarter residents celebrate an idea dreamt up by their comrades months ago; a task force, manned by off duty NOPD officers, aimed at keeping people safe.
"I have a house on Bourbon Street and I feel so much safer seeing those Polaris vehicles," French Quarter resident Lynda Depanicis said.
Flash back to January. Many of these folks gathered in Jackson Square, protesting the lack of police presence in the quarter and the armed robberies and burglaries that polarized the neighborhood.
Bryan Drude, president of the French Quarter Advocates, explains, "It was the wild, wild west and now today we feel we can go outside with the comfort of knowing that we have police security in the neighborhood."
The hospitality industry is helping to fund the task force after businessman Sidney Torres paid for the first three months of its existence. Today, residents say it's their turn to chip in, handing over a donation to walk in the Second Line for Safety.
"We thought as a neighborhood organization, we need to give back to our neighborhood and do what we can to help them as well," Drude said.
Having additional boots on the ground is something residents in other parts of New Orleans would like to see too. Margaret Maxwell owns property Uptown, not far from recent armed robberies like the one at Patois restaurant in August and Monkey Hill bar last week.
"I don't like what's going on in this city right now," Maxwell said.
While Uptown neighborhood associations are exploring their options, Maxwell says she'd love to see something similar to the French Quarter Task Force operate Uptown.
"We are going to show these criminals this is not ok with us and it's got to stop," Maxwell said.
In the meantime, French Quarter voters will soon head to the polls to consider funding their task force, long term. On the ballot October 24th, a proposition to pass an additional quarter cent sales tax, with the proceeds going toward the crime fighting initiative.