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City of N.O. approves $1M expansion of crime cameras to help solve violent crimes

Funding from the Entergy Settlement Fund will be used to purchase and install 70 new crime cameras.
Published: Jun. 17, 2021 at 9:55 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 11:01 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A $1 million investment from the Entergy Settlement Fund will purchase and staff 70 new crime cameras across the City of New Orleans. A majority of those new cameras will be placed in New Orleans East, where an increase in violent crimes has led some families to live in fear.

“This is a big step. This is a major step because now the criminals know somebody’s watching,” said concerned New Orleans East resident John Alfred. “Maybe that can slow them [criminals] down. At least it’s some form of prevention.”

City council member Kristin Palmer, District C, said $500,000 of the investment will stay in New Orleans East, while the rest will be dispersed throughout the other districts.

“At some point, we have to just say no,” said Palmer. “This is not who we are as a city and we all know somebody at this point right now who has been a victim of crime.”

About 22 of the new crime cameras will be placed in New Orleans East, while the other districts will only receive 12 new cameras each.

Councilmember for District E Cyndi Nguyen said she’s hoping the additional cameras in the East will tackle more than just the increase in violent crime.

“Every neighborhood in District E will be able to get a crime camera and we are also talking about illegal dumping too,” she said.

Residents say this is a step in the right direction when it comes to fighting crime in their neighborhoods.

“At this point, the community is really afraid to go to the gas station,” said New Orleans East resident Dawn Hebert. “There are shootings on the interstate you know, the carjackings are happening so hopefully, this will definitely help the police department to catch these people that are doing these crimes.”

For Sharon Varnado, she’s hoping the new cameras will help solve crimes, unlike her own: “Couple of months ago my son was gunned down and in front of a gas station due to an alleged carjacking and I would be happy that if they could continue to put them in the community especially at gas stations.”

Footage from crime cameras has helped the city track down violent offenders and provide evidence for trials. The council members say investing in the cameras is a smart way to address violent crime and perhaps help residents feel safer.

Funding for the new cameras will also include connectivity and staffing at the City’s Real-Time Crime Center where the crime cameras are monitored 24 hours a day.

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June 17, 2021

Councilmembers Palmer and Nguyen Announce $1 Million Investment in Crime Camera Program to Address Violent Crime Increase

Cameras will be targeted in areas with an increase in carjackings and other violent crimes.

NEW ORLEANS EAST - Today, Councilmembers Kristin Palmer and Cyndi Nguyen stood with victims of violent crime to announce a $1 million investment to be used to purchase and staff 70 new crime cameras. The crime cameras, monitored 24 hours a day by the City’s Office of Homeland Security Real-Time Crime Center, will be installed city-wide. The majority of the cameras will be placed in New Orleans East, where an increase in carjackings and other violent crimes has led to families living in fear.

“The people of New Orleans are very aware that we’ve seen an increase in violent crimes since the end of the pandemic,” said Palmer. “Our residents shouldn’t be afraid to go to a convenience store or to stop and get gas. We need to be laser-focused on stopping violent crime in our city. I’m not going to just accept families living in fear.”

The New Orleans City Council’s crime dashboard shows a 51% increase in shootings since last year and a 45% increase in aggravated assault, which usually involves a weapon. Data from the Office of Homeland Security shows that the Crime Camera Program deters unlawful activity and has helped to solve crimes in high crime areas of New Orleans.

On Thursday, The New Orleans City Council passed Palmer’s ordinances allocating $500,000 from the Entergy Settlement Fund to the City’s Office of Homeland Security to purchase and install 70 crime and illegal dumping cameras in every Council District in New Orleans. In addition, a $500,000 allocation of Entergy Settlement Fund and bond funding by Councilmember Nguyen was approved by the Council in 2020 to install more crime cameras in New Orleans East.

The Crime Camera Program will be expanded by 22 new cameras in New Orleans East and 12 in each of Council Districts A thru D. The funding includes connectivity and staffing at the Real-Time Crime Center.

“Investments in technology have been a critical part of the City’s efforts to prevent and solve violent crime,” said Palmer. “Footage from the Crime Camera Program has helped the City track down violent offenders and provide evidence in trials. Investing in the Crime Camera Program is the kind of ‘smart on crime’ efforts that we need right now.”

“New Orleans East is experiencing unacceptable increases in violence, and District “E” residents deserve to feel safe,” Councilmember Nguyen added. “This financial investment to expand technology and resources will help keep our residents safe and bring criminals to justice. I am committed to working with New Orleans police to ensure the additional crime cameras will go to high volume crime areas in New Orleans East.”

Advocates for victims of crime are supporting Palmer and Nguyen’s efforts to expand their programs that solve crime without increasing efforts that can lead to the criminalization of communities.

“My son, Shawn Brock, was shot and killed near the Chevron gas station on Crowder Boulevard on January 25, 2021, and his killer is still out there,” said Sharon Varnado, a New Orleans East resident and victim advocate. “I’m grateful that Councilmembers Palmer and Nguyen are doing something to address violent crime. I hope another parent doesn’t have to go through what I’m going through.”

“The families here with me today are victims of violent crime,” said Nguyen. “They have had no closure and no justice for the loss of their loved ones. Putting more money into the City’s Crime Camera Program will give us one more tool to keep our residents and neighborhoods safe.”

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New Orleans City Council

The New Orleans City Council is the legislative branch of New Orleans city government. The Council considers and enacts all local laws that govern the City of New Orleans. The Council also approves the operating and capital budgets for the City, as recommended by the mayor, and continually monitors revenues and expenditures for local government operations. The City Council is also the regulatory body for public utilities. It also reviews and has final say on many land use and zoning matters, as well as considers major economic development projects for the City. As a Board of Review for Orleans Parish, the Council examines appeals of property tax assessments for real estate taxes, and certifies tax rolls to the Louisiana Tax Commission. Other responsibilities of the Council include overseeing the operation of the public access television in Orleans Parish. Streaming video and video archives of the City Council’s Regular and Committee meetings can be found on the City Council website.

The City Council is comprised of five districts and two Councilmembers-at-Large: Council President and Councilmember-at-Large Helena Moreno, Council Vice President and Interim Councilmember-At-Large Donna Glapion, District “A” Councilmember Joseph I. Giarrusso, District “B” Councilmember Jay H. Banks, District “C” Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, District “D” Councilmember Jared C. Brossett, and District “E” Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen.

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