Notes from NONPAC
Highlights of the 8th District NONPAC meeting 4/12: Perhaps because crime in the French Quarter and the Marigny Triangle has been on the quiet side for most of the past month, only about 2 dozen residents turned out for last night's meeting. Just because crime has not been rampant recently is no reason to let your guard down--citizen attendance at these monthly meetings signals your interest in keeping your neighborhood safe and your support for the 8th District officers who are trying to do that.
Lt. Ed Selby, subbing for Capt. Edwin Hosli, along with the assistance of Quality-of-Life Officer Roger Jones, fielded these concerns:
Where are the cops?: One citizen questioned why she saw 9 officers (NOPD and State Police) congregating on one corner one evening on Bourbon Street. "Why aren't they on my block patrolling?" she wanted to know.
Lt. Selby said that shouldn't be happening because Capt. Hosli has a rule that there are to be 2 officers per block on the "Bourbon Promenade" (the glittery stretch of the street devoted to nightlife) in the evening. He said he would raise the issue with the captain and the head of the State Police contingent in the Quarter.
He noted that the district's 108 officers were "stretched thin" (though the 8th District showed the biggest decrease in crime in the past 4 weeks of all the city's NOPD districts).
Deploying officers on scooters, he said, should improve patrolling in the Quarter and Triangle , though only 10 are in operation due to a lack of funds (any philanthropists out there?). Scooters slowly patrolling neighborhoods gives the officers the ability to scan the scene around them and to make contact with residents, unlike officers in cars--which the lieutenant and residents alike--criticized for driving around with windows up and often on a cellphone. "I think it ought to be against the law for an officer to be driving while on a cellphone," Lt. Selby added.
Regarding complaints from citizens who said some officers seem indifferent to their requests for assistance, Lt. Selby suggested getting the officer's badge number or his car number and report it to the district's Public Integrity Officer, Lt. D.J. Albert, noting that citizens didn't have to give their name to lodge a complaint.
The district doesn't have enough officers or cars to patrol regularly, Lt. Selby said. "They have to go where the calls are." But he pointed out, "We do tell an officer who has to write a report, to park his car in an area where there's been trouble and write the report in his car--that gives us visibility there."
When it was noted that the latest rash of armed robberies were committed by perpetrators in illegally parked cars with temporary tags, Lt. Selby told residents who noted something suspicious to "call and let the police check it out." Then he went further and gave the audience his cellphone number--234-8072--and told them to "call me if see something that makes you uncomfortable." He joked "I wouldn't be crazy about a call at 2 a.m.--but I guess I could always put in for overtime."
Can you hear me now?: Voices clamored complaints about the noise level on Bourbon Street. "I work in the Quarter and I'm trapped in it with the noise--and it's getting worse," one woman stammered with emotion. Others echoed the ongoing problem that has vexed neighbors for years.
Ofc. Jones noted that the NOPD's enforcement efforts are hampered by a restraining order that prevents the police from shutting down a noisy establishment. The dispute centers around "what is too loud?" and the lack of equipment to measure decibel levels emanating from the clubs. Laws are on the books which prevent clubs from placing speakers outside an establishment or directing speakers toward the street from less than 8 feet away (one officer supposedly has been known to disconnect the wires from speakers found in violation).
Ofc. Jones said citizens can file noise complaints with the city health department by obtaining a form from Room IW04 at City Hall; he said he would soon have forms available at the 8th District station at Royal and Conti streets. He urged residents to call him on his cellphone at 201-1520 if they had an urgent complaint.
NOcrimeline noted: Lt. Selby noted that the 8th District is the only NOPD district with a conduit to its constituents like NOcrimeline. "We hope we've started a trend here--we wish all districts could put out information so eloquently."
Capt. Hosli and his staff have begun supplying timely reports as crimes occur so residents of the district have current information that can help them avoid becoming a victim.
The monthly NONPAC (New Orleans Neighborhood Policing Anti-Crime Council) meetings are held the SECOND Thursday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the Omni Royal Orleans hotel, 621 St. Louis St.
As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.