City to utilize new safety tool during busy holiday weekend

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Despite the chilly temps and wet weather expected this weekend, the city expects thousands of visitors to ring in the new year here. That's not to mention those in town for all the Sugar Bowl festivities. It's why officials are taking extra precautions and utilizing a new tool to keep people safe.

New Orleans Director of Homeland Security Aaron Miller says the new, Real Time Crime Center will be a crucial resource in an events-filled weekend like this one.

"Particularly when it comes to large-scale special events, we're not just looking for crimes in progress, we're not just looking for other things that may happen, but we're also using the tools in all the information that's feeding into the real time crime center to keep folks safe," Miller explained.

In the month since it debuted, Miller says the center has already provided valuable intelligence, not only when it comes to seeing what's happening on the street, but also as an investigatory tool.

"We've been able to retrieve footage in about 15 cases we've assisted with so far," said Miller.

From catching crooks in the act, to retracing footsteps to identify victims of crime, Miller says it paints a detailed picture for investigators and saves valuable time.

Yet, it's not just law enforcement that benefits. Miller says the Real Time Crime Center will be critical in assisting emergency responders this weekend.

"We're looking at things like traffic status on the interstate as people leave special events. We're looking at any other problems that might impact the ability for public safety to get to or from an area," explained Miller.

That includes traffic crashes that could delay emergency vehicles or public works issues that need attention. The information is readily available and immediately relayed to those who need it.

While NOPD and a number of other agencies are taking precautions and implementing safety measures, like the extra lights in the French Quarter, increased patrols and more emergency responders on hand, Miller says the Real Time Crime Center will also offer insight into what they can do better next time.

"Look at where crowds are during the special events. We can figure out whether we deployed our public safety resources effectively and it may be that we find the next time that we need additional lighting in an area, we may need an extra sky watch Tower, we may need to move around some of our assets. This allows us to get a good picture of these things, put all the information together, make better decisions to keep folks safe," Miller said.

He adds the city has extra cameras put in place for the holiday weekend. That's a total of more than 90 cameras keeping an eye on the busiest parts of New Orleans.