NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Supplemental police patrols in the French Quarter, funded by the sales tax that passed last month, still hang in limbo as violent crime persists and the City calls in overtime officers.
“He bit one of the officers, I mean, this guy was really out of control but it was to the credit of the Task Force officer to see that trouble’s going on and call for backup,” Jeff Collins said.
Collins, a French Quarter resident since 1983, says the Task Force’s “Blue Light Patrols” have really made a difference, once helping out his neighbor who was being harassed by a man he says was intoxicated.
“We never would get patrols in the lower quarter, it was always in the upper quarter, Bourbon Street, you know, where most, most people are, so for the lower quarter, it’s been a lifesaver,” Collins said.
NOPD has recently dedicated over 570 additional man-hours weekly due to overtime being reinstated by the city.
However, the French Quarter Task Force future is still on hold at the moment
“The voters spoke, they spoke very clearly twice, the first time to say we don’t want the city doing this, the second time to say we do want the French Quarter Management District to do this,” FQMD Chair Christian Pendleton said.
Voters approved a tax to fund the program with 72 percent of the vote this time and the ballot language expressly puts the state-run French Quarter Management District in charge of dolling out the funds.
“We’re about 90-percent there with the city we agree on how to operate the patrols and so I feel really really good about that,” Pendleton. “The challenge now is that last 10 percent and that’s you know that’s the budgeting the the oversight in the administration and obviously that’s something that the city wants to hold on to,” Pendleton said.
A City spokesperson said “the concerns remain the same, handing over taxpayer funds to an unelected body with no accountability is bad policy” and before anything can continue, an agreement has to be signed.
The FQMD is still getting the legwork done in the meantime with the budget and operations, having already run this program for six years prior
“FQMD is is doing everything we can to make sure that when we get the CEA signed, we are ready to go,” Pendleton said.
Many residents like Collins are ready and waiting.
“Almost everybody I know is behind it,” Collins said. “It’s certainly helped the quality of life tenfold.”
Pendleton also invites stakeholders to tune into their public meetings to see how it will all be structured and how their tax dollars will be used.
A city spokesperson says in the meantime, you will continue to see more police presence until this issue is worked out.
The FQMD hopes to have a rough draft of a budget by June and to present the final draft to the City Council in July.
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