Mayor Mitch Landrieu's security plan, which would require all alcohol beverage outlets to install outdoor security cameras and link them to a monitoring center, does not undermine the city’s long-term goal of cutting crime through expanded opportunity and incomes. People who want to make an honest living in New Orleans should have a chance to do so without fear of being robbed, raped, killed, or maimed.
Violent criminals should have a well-founded fear of being identified, tracked, caught, and prosecuted. Cameras will not directly stop a crime from being committed, but they can provide critical evidence in investigations and raise the consequences for breaking the law.
How many unemployed or underemployed people have refused to become a pizza deliveryman in New Orleans because of unsolved murders, robberies, or assaults? It's a legitimate question, given how many pizza deliverymen in New Orleans have been killed, robbed, or hurt on the job. As an employer in the French Quarter, I tell my nighttime (and daytime) employees not to wear their work uniform on their way back home because they will be a target for criminals looking for victims with cash. Businesses often have difficulties in finding workers for the late shift because of safety concerns. Working in New Orleans should pay, but it should also be safe. Visiting and living in New Orleans should also be safe.
Downtown neighborhoods, including the French Quarter, the Central Business District, the Warehouse District, Marigny, and Treme, are the heart of New Orleans’ tourism industry and the city’s economic engine.
Unfortunately, many crimes occur in these highly populated areas.
Criminals are always attracted to areas with the key ingredients for criminal predators: money, inebriated people, loosened inhibitions, and a target-rich environment. The city’s downtown areas are also likely to be the main target of modern society’s most horrific crime — terrorism.
To see how the plan operates in practice and to protect our city’s downtown areas as soon as possible, City Hall could initially require ABOs only in downtown districts to install the cameras. Many downtown businesses, residents, and stakeholders support measures to improve public safety. If the camera network and monitoring center operate as intended and enhance public safety in the downtown core, perhaps other neighborhoods will support expanding the camera network.
Nights in the Big Easy can be exciting for residents, visitors, businesses, workers — and criminals. Unfortunately, nightlife in New Orleans (especially downtown) offers a lot of opportunity for lawbreakers to commit crimes and get away with them. With a comprehensive camera network protecting our city’s busiest areas, nightlife in New Orleans could instead offer opportunity for those who are currently afraid to take a job during the graveyard shift and those who want to make an honest living from the city’s tourism economy.