Mayor Mitch Landrieu
and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) announced a program to "improve public safety and quality of life enforcement and presence in the French Quarter" following recent violence in the neighborhood and on Bourbon Street. Expected to launch later this year, the "NOLA Patrol
" will consist of 50 uniformed, unarmed civilian "grounds patrol officers" that will handle traffic control and other "non-emergency tasks" currently handled by NOPD. The patrol officers will have vehicle decals and will be identified separately from NOPD.
According to the city, the goal is to free up NOPD manpower to handle violent crimes and other more serious crimes, while NOLA Patrol can focus on issues in the Quarter not prioritized by NOPD, including illegal parking, sanitation and other issues. A press release from the city also says the NOLA Patrol will serve as a "recruitment pipeline for fully certified NOPD officers."
The patrol will be funded by a portion of 1.75 hotel/motel tax (approved by the Louisiana Legislature in 2013) split between the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) — with .25 percent going to the city for the French Quarter. According to the city, that .25 percent will generate $200,000 a month to pay for the program. Before its launch, the NOLA Patrol and a cooperative endeavor agreement between the city and the CVB must receive New Orleans City Council approval.
In a statement, Landrieu said, "The French Quarter is an important economic engine for the city, region, and state, and we all have to do our part to ensure that is a healthy neighborhood."
Interim NOPD chief Michael Harrison
said the patrol "will be an asset to our 8th District and will help reduce some of our manpower pressures on 8th District officers. It is also a way for NOPD to be more engaged with this community on quality of life issues."
The plan supplements the French Quarter Business League's plan
to hire off-duty NOPD officers (at $10,000 per week) to patrol Bourbon.