New Orleans’ downtown gains new security force, cameras, patrol SUV

New Orleans’ downtown is gaining a new private security unit, a new NOPD patrol SUV, more public and private high-definition security cameras, the latter two through a partnership aimed at improving public safety in the CBD area, police said Thursday (Sept. 1).

The Downtown Development District has hired a new private security unit to patrol the area seven days a week, from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. Security patrols will respond to phone calls for services, perform regular business checks, report suspicious activity and “address quality-of-life issues.”

The private security unit expands on the district’s public-safety program, which also includes a 24-7 police detail and the Public Safety Rangers, a non-commissioned security force that patrols on foot and bicycle.

The Rangers’ services include surveying the district for suspicious activities, providing homeless outreach and offering SafeWalks, a free service that escorts residents, workers and visitors around downtown.

The Downtown Development District donated the new NOPD patrol SUV for use by the roughly 30 officers assigned to the DDD security detail, the force that provides 24-hour police security for the area.

Year to date, the DDD security detail has handled more than 3,800 calls for service and made 540 arrests, NOPD said.

The NOPD and Downtown Development District (DDD), in an ongoing partnership, have invested in the new resources to “ensure high visibility and a strong police presence throughout the downtown area everyday,” NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said in a news release.

“Public safety is our No. 1 priority and we are using every tool and resource available to deliver results to our residents and visitors,” Harrison said.

“The DDD is proud of our longtime partnership with the NOPD in advancing our public safety program and creating a safer New Orleans,” DDD President & CEO Kurt Weigle said in the news release.

NOPD surveillance cams
The city has bought six high-definition Mobile Video Surveillance systems that can record in real-time and be viewed by law enforcement via wireless devices, NOPD said.

The city has also invested in six high-definition Mobile Video Surveillance systems that can record in real-time and be viewed by law enforcement via wireless devices.

One such camera is already set up near the intersection of Canal Street and Elk Place, an area which has been a hotspot for crime.

Within the past year and a half, the Canal and Elk area has seen a man shot in the thigh early on a Monday afternoon in March and a woman critically wounded after being shot in the head inside a nearby restaurant on a Friday afternoon in April 2015. In July, police arrested an accused pimp and sex trafficker who reportedly sold drugs near the intersection.

The other new cameras will be used during major special events, police said.

Earlier this year, the Downtown Development District donated $10,000 to the NOPD’s Adopt-A-Block program. The program, which relies on public-private partnerships, aims to expand surveillance of high-crime areas by installing more high-definition cameras throughout the city.

Adopt-A-Block cameras are registered with the department’s SafeCam NOLA database, which helps connect detectives with the appropriate property owners to access surveillance footage.

Article by Laura McKnight, | The Times-Picayune