French Quarter security plan raises concerns

French Quarter security plan raises concerns

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The increased security in the French Quarter this weekend, including a complete shutdown of Bourbon Street to vehicles, will make a difference. But criminologist Peter Sharf questions if it can prevent all violent crimes.

"It's good. Is it enough? We hope so is all you can say, and again, the history of the Quarter of attacks going back to the one two years ago [are] these non-ideological attacks," Sharf said.

Sharf points to the Bayou Classic weekend shooting when 10 were shot and one man killed, despite an overwhelming police presence.

"You had 40 police officers in a three-block area before the Bayou Classic attack, and they were unable to avert this, so is this back to the future again?" Sharf said.

Chuck Robinson, the owner of Napoleon's Itch on Bourbon Street, will be in the blocked-off section of the French Quarter this weekend. He knows there's a lot police can do, but they don't have a silver bullet against crime.

"No one is going to be able to stop every random act, every lone wolf shooter. We hope that's not the case, but everyone's got to be observant," Robinson said.

In fact, Robinson and other business owners in the 700 block of Bourbon took security into their own hands recently after violence threatened their employees and the bottom line.

"We were in trouble. Three months ago, revenue was falling, staff was afraid. We took matters into our own hands. We will have that security in effect all weekend, it's every weekend," Robinson said.

He said their paid police presence in the last few months has made a big difference, calling the 700 block of Bourbon the safest section of the Quarter.

But Sharf thinks too much police presence, like the tactical units patrolling this weekend, could have the potential to backfire.

"You kill a golden goose through prevention in a way, you know?" Sharf said. "The second thing is that if somebody starts shooting, do you want people with AK-47s, M-16s, whatever it is, to respond, and that is you could actually make it worse," Sharf said.

Still, Robinson thinks safety is the first priority, even if it means significant changes in the Quarter.

"It may come to that, it may come to that. I hope that we don't become that much of a police state, but if it has to be to protect lives in this precious 10 by 12 blocks, then it will have to be, and everyone will have to realize it," Robinson said.

The FBI said there are no credible threats against New Orleans this weekend.

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