NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - In light of ongoing security threats, The New Orleans Police Department says it's taking extra measures to ensure safety during and after the Bayou Classic.
"I see the sunrise during special events and my officers do, as well," said NOPD 8th District Commander Nicholas Gernon.
Gernon is planning for a long night.
"When we shut down Bourbon Street around 8:30 and block access to Bourbon, that'll really push a lot of traffic on Canal Street," he said as he addressed dozens of traffic officers during the first of five roll calls set for Saturday night.
In all, Commander Gernon is expecting close to 350 officers on patrol in his district to manage visitors and locals out celebrating the Bayou Classic.
One person was shot and killed and another nine were injured in a shooting after the event, last year. While Gernon contributes the violence to ongoing beef between two out-of-towners, he says the department has implemented a number of new tactics for the big night, this year.
"We are always looking to better ourselves. We don't just look at New Orleans, we look at the global threat. And when we see things happening, we take steps to counter those thread throughout the world," Gernon explained.
This year, that means barriers to block vehicle access to Bourbon.
"To keep our pedestrian safe," said Gernon. "We also have a rapid response Bourbon Street team, which is a number of officers in tactical gear that will be on Bourbon Street. In the event something happens, they can deploy immediately."
Plus, a number of new officers will be making their real world debut. European K-9's will report for duty for the first time, specially trained to sniff out weapons and explosives.
"Anytime you have an increased amount of people in a confined space, like the French Quarter, safety is always an issue," said LSP Troop B Public Information Officer Trooper Melissa Matey.
State troopers will also be on hand to assist with security in the French Quarter.
"We're there to assist the New Orleans Police Department. It's extra manpower. It's extra eyes," said Matey.
While it will be hard to miss the heavy police presence, Gernon says there are likely many officers you won't see.
"Our undercover officers were out there in force. We made two good, gun arrests," Gernon said.
What's more, Gernon says the real time crime center has already proven effective, allowing undercover officers to nab a drug dealer in the act.
It's one more precaution Gernon hopes will ensure to a safe night for visitors and locals, alike.
"Hopefully, the biggest issues we have to deal with this congestion and traffic in the Canal and Poydras corridors," said Gernon.
He adds, when it comes to the French Quarter, violent crime is down 16-percent, in the year to date. Plus, he says officers have made 50 more gun arrests compared to this time last year.