NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Businessman Sidney Torres and a French Quarter resident have ended their public feud to provide better security to residents. The plan includes keeping the security task force out of the hands of the Downtown Development District.
"We made amends and decided to work together for the betterment of the city," Sidney Torres said Wednesday.
After Torres took out a full-page ad blasting the NOPD and Bob Simms, the volunteer running the security task force, he and Simms decided to mend fences. Fed up with crime, together they're regaining control of the task force after Torres said the city wanted the DDD to run it. They're also bringing back more officers to hit the streets after patrols were scaled back to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"The mayor's office has agreed to staff the program back 24 hours a day administratively, and an officer on the street 24 hours a day," Torres said.
"It's a definite step in the right direction, and this whole thing about violence has to be stopped," artist Gloria Willis said.
Willis works in Jackson Square where, just this past Sunday, a man trying to break up a fight was stabbed in the middle of the day.
Tour guide company owner Finis Shellnutt said crime is the number one concern for visitors.
"When we have reports like the Tulane guy this past weekend, that's terrible press. I felt so sorry for the whole family and I feel sorry for the city," Shellnutt said.
Torres hopes an upgraded app used to report crimes to the task force will be utilized by tourists. It'll also help the off-duty NOPD officers responding to incidents.
"Now it's going to be just like Uber where when you pull it up, it immediately tells you where you are, when you're submitting the crime so the officer knows your location when you're submitting the crime," Torres said.
Officers are getting new wheels too. Smart cars will replace the Polaris vehicles many said were unsuitable for streets in the French Quarter. It's all an effort to improve response times and efficiency for the men and women who help keep the Quarter safe.
The system will now be paperless, meaning officers check in and out on the app and provide a log of their daily activities. Torres said it'll be much easier to run and manage.