New Orleans is launching a $40 million security effort to fight a dramatic spike in crime. The city is adding surveillance cameras, extra lighting and a potential restriction on bars, among other measures.
The city saw 60 murders in the third quarter of 2016. That is a 54 percent jump from the same period the year before.
Some of the new security measures are already in place on Bourbon Street, reports CBS News correspondent David Begnaud. One that is still being decided is whether bars should be forced to close their doors at 3 a.m. and make everybody come inside.
It’s carnival season in New Orleans. The atmosphere is festive, but business owners are not masking their opposition to the mayor’s security plan. By far, the most controversial part of the proposal involves the bar curfew – not to shut down their business, just shut their doors to help get people off the street.
That part of the plan would require city council approval. But it isn’t mixing well with bar owner Daniel Victory.
“You’re worried about it hitting the bottom line,” Begnaud said.
“Definitely the bottom line, which is really my top line, that’s where my most priority is. I’m in the business to make money,” Victory said.
“So the idea of you closing the doors – people think you’re closed?” Begnaud asked.
“Definitely. Without a doubt,” Victory said.
The new large-scale security plan comes three months after a deadly shooting on Bourbon Street killed one man and injured nine.
The proposal includes adding 200 high-definition cameras in 20 hot spots around the city and big signs that make it clear you’re being filmed. There are barriers, which are meant to stop a maniac with a vehicle from driving onto Bourbon Street and killing people, which is what happened in Nice, France, last year.
Fearing that threat in New Orleans is part of why Mayor Mitch Landrieu is rolling out this plan.
“We’re going to have more police officers, more boots on the ground. We’ll have guys in tactical gear much like they do in every major city now because of the potential terrorism threat,” Landrieu said.
New Orleans Police Chief Michael Harrison says the new surveillance program is modeled after other major U.S. cities.
“Those cameras will feed into a real-time crime center that’s going to be outfitted in downtown New Orleans,” Harrison said.
“What do you say to those folks who know they’re there, who say this is going to lead to profiling?” Begnaud asked.
“It’s not profiling,” Harrison said. “It’s a crime deterrence plan.”
“Where do you get the money?” Begnaud asked Landrieu.
“That’s a very interesting question that can actually be directly answered. The convention center and the tourism industry are going to help us fund the capital investments to actually make this happen and then the city is going to pay for the rest of it. So it’s a half-and-half plan. The plan’s already paid for, we’ve got the money in place to do it,” Landrieu said.
There’s no word yet on when the city council is going to vote on the 3 a.m. closed-door proposal. The mayor said the idea could create fire code and hazard problems. A car ban on Bourbon Street is also under consideration.