Plan To Secure The French Quarter: State Police Patrol Tax, New Vehicles, App
NEW ORLEANS —Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced additional steps the City, hospitality industry, business community, and resident groups will take to improve and enhance public safety and quality of life for French Quarter residents, workers, and visitors.
The announcement yesterday included shorter-term plans for NOPD details to be paid by individual businesses and a hotel self-assessment. Longer-term plans include a new Economic Development District tax proposal dedicated to public safety that would be paid primarily by tourists.
To bolster manpower in NOPD’s 8th District, which includes the French Quarter, Marigny and Central Business District, short-term efforts have included:
• Assigning all or a portion of the Violent Crime Task Force of 16 officers daily to the 8th District
• Assigning any NOPD Reserve Officers nightly to 8th District blue light patrols
• Streamlining the process for applying for Vieux Carre Commission security camera permits
• Doubling the allocation of overtime available for hot spot and community policing citywide
• Reassigning officers from behind desks to patrols
On a more medium-term basis, through the end of 2015, several efforts are underway, including:
• Adding Louisiana State Police troopers on patrols in the French Quarter and surrounding areas, to be paid as overtime by the CVB
• Adding NOPD detail officers nightly to the Bourbon promenade through a partnership between the City, the French Quarter Management District (FQMD), and the French Quarter Business League
• Adding NOPD detail officers nightly on Polaris vehicle patrol for areas of the French Quarter beyond Bourbon Street through a partnership between the City, the FQMD and SDT Productions owned by Sidney Torres IV. For these details, SDT has donated to the City three Polaris vehicles outfitted for NOPD, as well as a new smart phone app aimed at assisting officers on the detail with non-emergency crimes
• Adding a complement of 4-6 NOLA Patrol officers throughout each day for non-emergency quality of life functions (starting in May, pending completion of training).
The longer-term (Jan 2016) plan for public safety manpower in the 8th District includes:
• Creating a new, sustainable revenue source to pay for State Police dedicated to the French Quarter through an Economic Development District quarter cent sales tax
• Continuing the Polaris vehicle task force and NOLA PATROL programs, funded by the City’s portion of the CVB hotel self-assessment
• Aggressively recruiting more officers until all patrol districts, including the 8th District, are adequately staffed for violent crime deterrence, calls-for-service response and community policing.
Since the Bourbon Street shooting last summer, a broad group of business owners and neighborhood leaders became engaged in finding solutions to address NOPD manpower pressures in the French Quarter. This multi-phase plan is an outgrowth of those meetings, which included representatives of the City, NOPD, French Quarter Management District, French Quarter Business League, French Quarter Business Association, French Quarter Citizens Inc., Vieux Carre Property Owners & Residents Association, French Quarter Advocates, New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, Greater New Orleans Hotel Lodging Association, and Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority.
Mayor Landrieu said, “The French Quarter is an important economic engine for the city, region, and state, and we will all have to do our part to ensure that it is a healthy and vibrant neighborhood. I sincerely appreciate the support of individuals, businesses, the hospitality industry and the State will be providing to make the French Quarter a safer place to live, work and visit. As you can see, we all have skin in the game, so I am confident this will be successful. Additionally, ensuring the French Quarter and 8th District get resources from the Louisiana State Police also ensures that we can more adequately staff the rest of the city with NOPD officers. It will be critical that the voters of the French Quarter approve the Economic Development District this fall.”
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said, “These additional resources will be an asset to our 8th District officers. Making the French Quarter safe for our residents, workers, and visitors is something NOPD remains committed to.”
District C Councilmember Nadine Ramsey said, “I am extremely pleased that we have been able to work out a self-sustaining plan for safety in the French Quarter. The Economic Development District will generate the funds needed to provide additional security without taking much needed resources from other parts of the City. This is an outstanding solution, and I sincerely hope that the residents of the French Quarter give their support when it is time to vote.”
Council President Stacy Head said, "As the improved safety of New Orleans' residents and many visitors is of utmost importance to the City Council, I am encouraged by plans to enhance security and patrols in the French Quarter. The Council will work with the Administration and appropriate citizen groups on the necessary next steps."
District A Councilmember Susan Guidry said, “Partnerships between private and public entities are essential as we explore innovative approaches to improving public safety throughout our City. The presence of Louisiana State Police in the French Quarter has been instrumental in maintaining order and ensuring safety during major events, and, if approved by the voters, this plan to fund supplemental patrols will enhance public safety for both visitors and residents.”
State Representative Helena Moreno said, “After months of work, I am so pleased that this major public safety enhancement has come together. It is in the best interest of the city and state to make public safety in New Orleans a great priority considering we're the only city in Louisiana that has 9 million annual visitors. This initiative is a major step towards improving the safety for New Orleans residents and its visitors.”
State Senator Ed Murray said, “I'm happy we have reached an agreement to provide additional law enforcement resources here in the French Quarter. This hopefully will make the French Quarter safer and allow additional NOPD resources to make other parts of the City safer as well. I commend all who are responsible for this development.”
Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Walt Leger III said, “This is a transformational announcement. Bringing together business leaders, residents, the hospitality industry and elected leaders to address our number one issue, public safety, is not only important for the immediate solution it presents, but also for the framework it provides for future collaborations to meet other challenges our City faces. Partnering with State Police to bring state assets to bear for the benefit of the people of New Orleans, the hospitality workers, our small businesses, and our visitors is a huge step in the right direction, and helps to continue to drive the positive momentum of our great City forward!”
State Representative Austin Badon said, “The safety of our citizens and visitors of the City of New Orleans is a top priority. The entire community is stepping forward to say that ‘Enough is Enough’ and that we are doing something about it. Criminal behavior will not be tolerated therefore these new measures are warranted. I applauded the dedicated men and women of the New Orleans Police Department and the Orleans Criminal Sheriff’s department. I also thankful for the efforts of Colonel Mike Edmonson and the Louisiana State Police for making MY New Orleans as safe as possible.”
FRENCH QUARTER PATROLS THROUGH 2015
Bourbon Street Foot Patrols - NOPD Details
The French Quarter Business League (FQBL) has agreed to donate approximately $40,000 per month through the end of the year to the French Quarter Management District, which will hire NOPD officers to work foot patrols on Bourbon Street. So that ABOs were not hiring details to comply with the consent decree, the money is instead going to the French Quarter Management District, which is acting as the fiduciary agent. The Office of Police Secondary Employment will manage the details with an 8th District platoon supervisor overseeing the detail officers on foot patrols.
Additionally, recognizing the need to boost those efforts, the Landrieu administration and hoteliers agreed to match the business contributions from the City’s portion of the hotel self-assessment. The details are expected to begin in April.
“The members of the French Quarter Business League (FQBL) are excited that we are able to provide additional financial resources to enhance security in the French Quarter and specifically Bourbon Street,” said Alex Fein, FQBL President. “We hope that this combined effort by multiple interested parties provides our visitors and employees with a renewed sense of safety when visiting Bourbon Street, and look forward to a safer Bourbon Street for everyone.”
FQ Task Force Polaris Patrols funded by SDT Productions
Beyond Bourbon Street, SDT Productions owned by entrepreneur Sidney Torres, IV, has agreed to fund three nightly Polaris vehicle patrols and at least one officer during the daytime hours. He also unveiled the next step in a pioneering public-private partnership to tackle crime: a new crime-fighting app for phones and tablets. So that the vehicle patrols are accessible and distinguished from normal patrols, Torres donated three smaller utility Polaris vehicles that will be dedicated to the detail. Like the Bourbon Street foot patrols, the Office of Police Secondary Employment will manage the details with an 8th District platoon supervisor overseeing the detail officers on Polaris vehicles. The detail shifts begin in earnest today, March 25, 2015. The donations for the first two months of patrols as well as the vehicles are about $100,000. SDT is also making a donation to the SPCA so that they can assist with animal control following arrests of individuals aggressively soliciting.
Torres remarked on the empowerment and unity signaled by the joint effort, saying, “I want to thank the mayor and his staff for working with us, Bob Simms and the French Quarter Management District, the New Orleans Police Department, and Col. Edmonson of the State Police. I also want to thank Sheriff Marlin Gusman, who is making preparations to accept additional transients who are found violating city law as well as the Louisiana SPCA who agreed to accept animals that have to be surrendered. This really is everyone working together. The message we send today is that the people of our city are united in the mission of keeping the French Quarter safe. The app empowers the people and the extra police presence ensures a response. We will not be bullied by criminals any more. We will work together: businesses, government, and private citizens. Everyone has a part to play and everyone will benefit from the results.”
The French Quarter Task Force app, designed to equip residents with an easy way to report crimes and give the police added eyes and ears on the street, is available for download starting today. The app will allow people to quickly capture photos of crimes or suspicious activities in progress and report them to the Louisiana State Police and the New Orleans Police Department who will monitor submissions. Out of love for New Orleans, music artist Lenny Kravitz offered the use of one of his songs as a way of encouraging people to download and use the app, which is available in Apple’s iTunes Store and the Android Marketplace (Google Play). For more information, visit: www.fqtaskforce.com. Television advertising will alert the public to the app’s availability and encourage its use. For more information: https://youtu.be/8V67DkyMbvo.
Torres concluded, “We’re taking a 360-degree approach to the problem. The app, the officers, the vehicles, all of it with supervision from the City and financial support from the business community. Together, we can keep French Quarter safe.”
Bob Simms, FQMD Security Task Force chair said “The increased visibility of Officers patrolling the streets coupled with the game changing and innovative App provides citizens with a way to take an active part in helping NOPD make the French Quarter a safer place.”
Louisiana State Police funded by New Orleans CVB
As was previously announced, additional State Troopers will redeploy to New Orleans in support of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) through the end of 2015. The operational planning has been underway since the completion of the 2015 Mardi Gras detail, when senior staff within the department were tasked with developing a sustainable strategy to deploy Troopers to complement the operations of the NOPD 8th District. The redeployment will be in partnership with the New Orleans business community, who will help supplement Louisiana State Police overtime expenses and provide support for the deployment plan through the end of 2015. The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) announced that they raised and dedicated $2.5 million to fund State Police operations within the French Quarter, Central Business District, Marigny and Bywater areas. Businesses, residents and visitors should expect to see upwards of 60 uniformed Troopers during peak weekends throughout the French Quarter and neighboring areas. On average, 10-12 uniformed officers will be added nightly. This uniformed presence will supplement the officers of the NOPD 8th District. In addition to the French Quarter, Orleans Parish will see an increased presence of Troopers from Troop B, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, DPS Police, and the various investigative Troopers who operate in the city every day. The strategy will mirror past State Police successful operations and deployments. Troopers will be proactive in their efforts, policing with an all-crimes approach focusing on illegal guns, illegal weapons and fugitives. Enforcement efforts will utilize traditional uniformed vehicle patrol, foot patrol, plain clothes investigative operations and commercial vehicle enforcement all based on intelligence information of criminal activity in the areas of operation.
Colonel Mike Edmonson, superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, said, “This was a cooperative effort between the Louisiana State Police, the New Orleans Police Department, business, and political leaders. My commitment to Mayor Landrieu and Chief Harrison is steadfast while also being mindful of our obligation to the Sheriffs and Chiefs across Louisiana who we work in partnership with on a daily basis. I am confident that this plan can be executed without adversely impacting other areas of the state, and I am appreciative of the unprecedented support by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau in providing the necessary funding. I have visited with my Troopers who are poised, trained, equipped and motivated to assist. I could not be prouder of their past efforts and their willingness to move forward through the remainder of 2015.”
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT: A LONGER-TERM PLAN
To improve the public safety of residents, workers and visitors in the French Quarter, an area that hosts approximately 9 million tourists per year, several groups and entities have been discussing the creation of an Economic Development District (EDD) and other long-term streams of revenue to enhance public safety in the French Quarter, which will be paid overwhelmingly by tourists.
Funds generated from an additional quarter cent sales tax within the boundaries of the French Quarter Management District (see diagram below) would be used to fund a longer-term contingent of 45 Louisiana State Police troopers that would be used throughout the French Quarter. Louisiana State Police and NOPD have a 35-year history of integrated deployment and shared responsibilities with Mardi Gras and major special events in the city. This would move towards a sustainable State Police presence in the French Quarter. The boundaries of the EDD would match those of the French Quarter Management District, which are The Mississippi River; the center line of Canal Street; the rear property line of properties fronting on the lake side of North Rampart Street; and the rear property line of properties fronting on the downriver side of Esplanade Avenue. Only if approved by the voters in the French Quarter in an election this fall could the additional quarter cent sales tax be levied. It is estimated that a quarter cent sales tax (excluding hotel/motel room taxes) within the FQMD boundaries would generate approximately $2 million annually to spend on State Police. Tourists would generate these funds overwhelmingly.
The $2 million in proceeds of the Economic Development District, if passed by the voters in the district, would be matched by long-term commitments in funding from hospitality organizations, including:
• $500,000 each annually from the Convention & Visitors Bureau, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, and possibly Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District
• $1.0 million annually from the Morial Convention Center
• $500,000 annually from the City’s portion of the .25% hotel self-assessment, named the French Quarter Improvement Fund (which is being used to match FQBL contributions to Bourbon Street foot patrol details in 2015).
In total, it is expected these sources of funds would generate approximately $4.5 million annually to fund Louisiana State Police troopers specifically dedicated to the French Quarter, funded by revenue from tourists. It is estimated that the annual cost of a state trooper is $100,000. The annual funds would support about 45 full time State Police Troopers in the French Quarter. If passed by voters, the effort could begin in earnest in January 2016. There would be a 5-year sunset provision on the tax, with the option for renewal pending voter approval at expiration. This overall solution would add at minimum of 10-12 State Troopers per shift, combined with the current 8th District contingent, NOPD Polaris patrol details in the residential areas of the French Quarter, and NOLA PATROL.
As part of this longer-term plan, the primary responsibility of LSP troopers would be patrolling specific target areas (Bourbon Street on foot, Canal Street on foot, residential areas in car, etc.) in partnership with the 8th District NOPD officers.
The New Orleans City Council will sit as the governing board for the French Quarter EDD. A legally binding contract (CEA) between the EDD and the State of Louisiana that must be approved by the City Council will specifically lay out that expenditures would be used only for permanent State Troopers and would give the City Council oversight of the EDD portion of the expenditures.
In order to create the EDD, the City Council must take action beginning at their upcoming March 26 regular meeting. A public hearing and meeting to create the EDD will be held on the Thursday, April 23, regular meeting. As part of the process, the City Council will also have to call an election to levy the additional sales tax in the area dedicated to public safety for State Troopers. The CEA and ballot language will stipulate that these funds are designed to supplement and enhance public safety services already normally provided in the French Quarter. State Troopers will not supplant what is already dedicated to the French Quarter in the 8th District.
State Rep. Helena Moreno will create a trust fund to hold the proceeds of the EDD and the tourism entity contributions for State Police. The Orleans legislative delegation is also looking for other sources of funding in the State budget to dedicate to this effort.
EDD Approval Schedule:
March 26, 2015: Council adopts Resolution of Intent to Create EDD & introduces “creation” ordinance w/ Council (Regular Council Meeting)
April 23, 2015: Council holds public hearing on creation of EDD and adopts creation ordinance (Regular Council Meeting)
May 7, 2015: Council introduces CEA ordinance and adopts Resolution of Intent to Levy Tax (at meeting after adopting creation ordinance)
June 4, 2015: Council adopts CEA ordinance at regular meeting
June 18, 2015: City Council adopts resolution calling for election for preparation of ballot
July 16, 2015: Bond Commission Meeting for approval
October 24, 2015: Election
Steve Pettus, chair of the French Quarter Management District said, "The Louisiana Legislature created the French Quarter Management District to make the safety of locals and visitors in the French Quarter a top priority. The FQMD is honored to be entrusted with this responsibility, and we look forward to managing the supplemental police patrol program and to the positive outcomes it will create for our community.”
Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “Today's announcement marks a quantum leap forward for public safety in the French Quarter for visitors, residents, and employees and will protect the New Orleans brand for years to come. This hybrid approach from the city, state, and tourism industry to multi-platform coverage and law enforcement protection with the Louisiana State Police, NOPD, and NOLA Patrol, combining private and public funding sources, represents the kind of innovative thinking and partnership that reflects the new New Orleans that is committed to forging creative new answers to age old problems."
Tod Chambers, Chairman of the NOCVB, commented, "The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and the entire participating hotel industry of New Orleans are very proud today that our Hotel Assessment, not yet one year old, has allowed our industry through the CVB to pledge significant long-term resources to making sure that our world class hospitality industry and beloved French Quarter have the state of the art law enforcement presence and public safety environment that is expected by all who visit, work, and live here. This partnership with the city and the state marks the beginning of a new day."
"We believe this is an appropriate and meaningful use of our resources so that we can help attack the major dissatisfier of tourists as well as our citizens," said Darryl Berger, chairman of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. "Importantly, we see this investment in security enhancement as critical to our overall marketing objectives to positively impact the city's economy by creating jobs and providing a safe environment for our citizens."
“I'm thankful for Mayor Landrieu's leadership in this initiative to enhance public safety in the French Quarter,” said Melvin Rodrigue, chairman of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. “He has established a great collaboration between the city and state along with the business community and residents. This world class asset of the people hosts locals and visitors alike and the presence of the Louisiana State Police, thanks to the governor and Colonel Edmonson, will be safe. This presence in the quarter by the state police will also help the NOPD more effectively patrol and police the other neighborhoods of the city. We're glad to be a part of this and looking forward to passing this EDD as the cornerstone of its financing.”
Susan Guillot, President of French Quarter Citizens said: "The French Quarter is a critical economic engine for the City of New Orleans and the entire state of Louisiana. French Quarter Citizens is committed to making the French Quarter a safer place to live, work and play for residents and visitors alike. This initiative is a step in the right direction."
Jeremy DeBlieux, Chairman and Past President of the French Quarter Business Association said, “The French Quarter Business Association is very pleased to see so many groups, organizations and individuals come together to help make the French Quarter safe for everyone. We would like to thank Mayor Landrieu, the City of New Orleans, NOPD, Col. Edmondson and the State Police, the CVB, the Convention Center, NOTMC, French Quarter Business League, Sidney Torres and The Hotel Motel Association who together are all making these initiatives happen. The FQBA and its board of directors also supports the Economic Development District and encourages all residents and voters in the French Quarter to get behind this most important funding, a quarter for the Quarter, to keep the French Quarter secure.”
NOLA PATROL UPDATES
In 2013, the Louisiana Legislature authorized hotels in New Orleans to add a voluntary self-assessment 1.75% hotel/motel tax that could be added to hotel bills at participating hotels. Of that, 1.5% would be split evenly between New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC) and New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) for marketing purposes, with .25% going to the City for services for the French Quarter. The .25% is expected to generate approximately $2.3 million in 2015 and more in 2016. The 2015 funding allocation has been approved by the City Council and included funds for sidewalk and lighting repairs, as well as a new NOPD program for the NOPD 8th District called NOLA PATROL. The NOLA PATROL will be a contingent of 25 civilian officers that can assume some non-emergency tasks that currently require a police officer. NOLA PATROL adds quality-of-life enforcement capacity, freeing up NOPD on-duty officers to fight violent crime and respond to calls for service.
Delegating non-emergency policing tasks to civilians is a model successfully deployed in several other major cities. NOPD has begun the hiring process for NOLA PATROL. Currently, about one dozen officers have been hired with others in background checks. They will soon start a five-week training program. The City anticipates that NOLA PATROL officers will be active on the streets in the month of May.