City Council approves $780K for more French Quarter surveillance cameras, police patrols

Photo by Dave Minsky
New Orleans City Council members last week unanimously approved more than $780,000 to pay for more police patrols and surveillance cameras in the French Quarter.

Council members voted 7-0 to approve the funds that will pay for, among other things, more equipment and training for New Orleans Police Department supplemental patrols in the French Quarter, homeless assistance, additional lighting and more cameras that will be connected to the Real-Time Crime Center located at 517 N. Rampart St.

During the Oct. 6 City Council meeting, At-Large Council member JP Morrell addressed concerns that the cameras would be used to crack down on street performers and musicians.

“If I ever get a report that these cameras are being used to harass street performers, I’ll be the first one to shut them down,” Morrell said.

Some audience members questioned the funding ordinance, including Ethan Ellestad, executive director of the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans, who was concerned over the way the ordinance was advertised.

Ellestad said the proposed ordinance was advertised as a budget adjustment, rather than what it would be used for, which he said could’ve brought more public participation from culture bearers and

In addition, Ellestad expressed a concern that the ordinance will still be used to suppress cultural activity, whether or not it’s the intent.

“This budget allocation really just spends all of its time on … increased surveillance, rather than investing in proactive policies and programs,” Ellestad said.

Another man at the meeting questioned why the French Quarter deserved special treatment when the entire city needs resources.

“When you all craft out this special privilege for the French Quarter, you’re all telling us that we don’t matter on the other end of the city,” the man said. “We’re special in NO East, we’re special in Garden Plaza, we’re special all over the city.”