New French Quarter security draft proposal could cost $25 millio - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

New French Quarter security draft proposal could cost $25 million

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

The French Quarter drives the city's economic engine, but it also creates security concerns.

A mass shooting last month sparked new discussion about making the area safer, while the international terror threat raises the sector of a high profile attack. Now, city officials are putting a new security plan on the fast track.

FOX 8 has exclusively obtained a copy of a draft strategy plan that carries with it a proposed price tag of $25 million.

"Right now we have to put something in place immediately," said French Quarter security activist and businessman Sidney Torres III.

City officials and French Quarter business leaders have been meeting, and their proposed strategy includes a call for two officers on each street, a better command structure and remote sensing technology to detect weapons.

 But Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni said nothing is etched in stone.

"Right now we are going through multiple proposals, and in the next two weeks we will talk about how we will finance it," he said.

The draft plan does not include security checkpoints or metal detectors, at least for now, and that's a concern to some.

"The only way you will stop this is setting up the ability to check individuals coming on Bourbon Street," Torres said.

 But Berni said they have not been ruled out.

 "We will have many discussions over the next few weeks as we finalize a plan," said Berni.

That plan may also include anti-terrorism measures like bollards to block wayward trucks, which occurred this week in Berlin, killing 12, on the heels of a July truck tragedy in Nice, France which killed 86.

Paying for all the security enhancements, as always, will be a challenge, and sources say the city is now looking toward the convention center and a huge surplus. Torres put up $600,000 of his own money to develop a French Quarter app and patrol system, and he now believes other long-term funding sources should be found.

"We need to take the funds needed and get this done," said Torres.

 City Hall said short-term steps, like extra lighting and cameras, have already taken place, and long-term planning has begun.

"We're looking at everything from stopping the sale of alcohol at 3 a.m., to additional security cameras, to thermal imaging to facial recognition software," Berni said.

 There's also a proposal to make Bourbon Street pedestrian only, with much more discussion to come.

We reached out to convention center officials to discuss the possibility of some of its surplus money being used for additional security. So far, we have not gotten a call back. The convention center, did recently help pay for the repaving of Iberville Street, and it pays for some French Quarter security.

We should have more details about Quarter security plans in the next few days.

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