(Photo: CC Flickr)
French Quarter Management District officials approved a temporary plan that will fund a program that supplies off-duty New Orleans Police security details throughout the Vieux Carre during a special board of commissioners meeting Dec. 31.
Board members approved the plan, or a cooperative endeavor agreement with the city that will fund Supplemental Police Patrol Program for an additional six months, or “until the funds run out, whichever happens sooner,” said Christian Pendleton, board chairman.
The FQMD received $100,000 each month from New Orleans and Company (previously the Convention and Visitors Bureau) in a 2017 agreement for the program, the funds of which were dependent on a local tourism economy that has been wracked by months of COVID-19 related restrictions.
The fund now has nearly $161,000 left in it and the program has a spending rate of about $10,500 per week, according to Karley Frankic, FQMD’s executive director.
“I do believe that this keeps us honoring our word to the voters, that we would do everything within our power to keep these patrols moving,” Pendleton said at the Dec. 31 virtual meeting. “We are continuing to live up to our word and I think that’s very important.”
Pendleton added that the agreement is a measure to continue off-duty patrols until a ballot measure is approved.
On Dec. 5, French Quarter residents voted down a ballot measure that would have renewed a 0.2495% sales tax in the Vieux Carre for an additional five years, with the proceeds funding the program and an additional civilian patrol.
Voters originally approved the sales tax in 2015 to pay for a Louisiana State Police troop, which departed the French Quarter at the end of 2020.
Referred to as “blue light” patrols, the SPPP began about six years ago and includes off-duty NOPD officers who patrol the French Quarter on a 24-hours per day basis in Smart cars. Residents are able to submit incident reports to the police via a smartphone app, although most of the calls-for-service are self-initiated by New Orleans Police.
Last year, SPPP officers responded to more than 20,000 calls, including 18,025 calls that were self-initiated, 2,281 calls that came in through the app and 400 calls received by dispatch, according to statistics provided in a 2020 FQMD draft report.