The tipsy and the unruly may want to avoid this particular party bus, where no one will be raising their hands in the air to show they just don’t care. The reason: handcuffs.
Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman wheeled out his “Mardi Gras Booking Bus” on Thursday, placing it in the heart of the French Quarter just as the final Carnival weekend gets rolling.
The vehicle, actually a converted RV, is where New Orleans cops and a large contingent of State Police troopers, in town for the city’s big weekend, can drop off alleged riffraff who are too blitzed or aggressive to be cited with summonses, but not violent enough to go directly to jail.
The idea: save law enforcement personnel the long trip to Central Lockup and get them back on the street.
About three dozen unfortunates are taken to the bus each year for processing, before some of them get carted off to be sized for Orleans Parish Prison orange.
Gusman said the charges frequently include public drunkenness, resisting arrest or criminal damage to property.
“Typically, they’ve crossed the line,” he said at a news conference Thursday. “Giving them a summons — some people might not be able to read it.”
Eighth District Police Cmdr. Jeff Walls said the number of bookings handled in the bus — 35 last year — is a fraction of the 400 to 500 arrests usually made in the French Quarter over the two-week Carnival period.
Gusman boasted that the vehicle has all the high-tech gear needed to properly identify suspects, process fingerprints and the like.
That doesn’t mean friends can bail out arrestees there and hit the streets.
“There will not be any releases here,” Gusman said.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison and State Police Col. Mike Edmonson were on hand to caution revelers to keep it on the tracks.
“We do not want to bring you to this mobile booking station,” Harrison said. “But if you make us, we will.”
The booking station will remain in place through Monday. Arrests tend to dwindle on Mardi Gras Day itself, Gusman said.