It's like a scene from a modern-day crime movie: State-of-the-art technology used to give police a quick upper-hand. And now the city has it. The new $5 million Real-Time Crime Monitoring Center was unveiled Tuesday afternoon on North Rampart Street.
"If you can hear and you can see what's going on in real time and then you can communicate, and you have people forward then the chances of stopping crime from happening and then apprehending them has increased exponentially," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu as he was flanked by city public safety officials.
Inside the center, a tapestry of cameras constantly bring live video into the facility from around the city and cutting-edge analytic software significantly reduces the time detectives need to dedicate to going through security video.
Homeland Security Director Aaron Miller demonstrated how police can request that only video of a person wearing a certain color at a certain time be displayed. A useful tool for zeroing in on both criminals and victims.
"So you see red shirts, red shirts, you may see some red pants or a pink colored top and those times are the times they actually walked through the frame," Miller said standing next to a huge monitor in the facility.
"The software and the data analytics that we have here can collapse the viewing time from an hour, down to a minute almost and single out colors, facial expressions, various kinds of sizes, shapes and colors," said Police Supt. Michael Harrison.
Chief Harrison believes the new tools will deter criminals.
"We will see you , we will know who you are, we will be able to apprehend you, we believe that will certainly give us the capacity to build great cases on the back end but it will give us a great deterrence effect on the front end," said Harrison.
The 24/7 facility will be a centralized location for information flowing from not only crime cameras but also license plate readers and will provide real-time information to the police, fire, and emergency medical services departments.
"This is the right step in the right direction and at the right time so that we can ensure that our city is moving toward true public safety," said Mayor-Elect Latoya Cantrell.
Mayor Landrieu said the new center puts New Orleans on par with other big cities.
"This particular room that you're looking at right now is one I saw both in Chicago first and New York second and worked with the police chief and mayor in both of those cities to conceptualize what this should look like," Landrieu stated.
Outside of the center was parked a brand new NOPD SUV. The city has invested of hundreds of new vehicles.
Landrieu's team said by the spring of next year all police, fire and EMS vehicles will have GPS. Landrieu also plans to send an ordinance to the New Orleans City Council that would require all bars in the city to buy into the system, so to speak.
"That would require all ABOs to install and maintain security cameras that will feed into this center, as well," said the mayor.
Landrieu was asked privacy rights, in terms of cameras at bars. He said there constitutional law that says if someone is in public they cannot have an expectation of privacy.
"If you're out in public it is highly likely in this day and age that you're going to filmed by some camera, or somebody holding a phone. I just think that's the new day and age that we're in and people should conduct themselves accordingly," said the mayor.
Landrieu said he would work with the city council to determine what consequences bars would face if his proposed ordinance is approved.