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NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Authorities have unveiled an extensive, $40 million program to fight crime and terrorism in New Orleans, including high-tech gadgetry and a new closed-door nightclub policy aimed at dialing down the intensity of wee-hours partying in the famously boozy city.
Announcing the plan Monday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Gov. John Bel Edwards and others stressed that it is intended to benefit not just tourists but everyone in the city that saw a spike in its murder rate last year.
The program includes plans for round-the-clock monitoring of cameras in 20 high crime hot spots around New Orleans and marked take-home cars for police officers, giving them a new visibility in various neighborhoods.
But it’s the changes along the popular stretch of bars, restaurants and strip joints on Bourbon Street in the city’s historic French Quarter that will be most noticeable, and, perhaps, most complicated.
Plans include an effort to turn Bourbon into a pedestrian-only thoroughfare, once traffic patterns, arrangements for delivery trucks and other details can be worked out. Bars - in the Quarter and elsewhere - will be told to shut their doors after 3 a.m., Landrieu said.
It’s not a shutdown of business, nor is it a curfew, he stressed. Patrons will be allowed to go in and out but it’s hoped that by shutting doors, on-street activity in the pre-dawn hours will diminish.
In addition to new city cameras, 20 of which will be monitored in real time at a planned central command center, feeds from private cameras will be used. Bars will be required to have security cameras.
“When you go on Bourbon Street now, everything you do will be seen,” Landrieu said, smiling. “Do I need to let that sink in?”
Months in the making, the plan follows a mass Thanksgiving weekend shooting that left one dead and nine injured on Bourbon. New high-tech equipment to be used in the anti-crime effort will include devices that can help detect concealed weapons and license plate readers.
The plans were announced as the city prepares for Mardi Gras and this year’s NBA All-Star game.
State police Superintendent Mike Edmonson said 173 extra uniformed troopers will be on hand for the game; more than 160 for Mardi Gras. Jeffrey Sallet, the agent in charge of the New Orleans FBI office, said no specific threats have been detected for either event while stressing the readiness of state and federal authorities.
Officials said much of the money for the program will come from the state’s Morial Convention Center, a major driver of tourist business in the city.
SOURCE: The Washington times
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