Police on leave will patrol the French Quarter to stop “aggressive begging, drunkards” | New
An off-duty police detachment called the Royal Street Patrol will soon be relaunched to deploy non-NOPD officers to an area 12 blocks from the French Quarter after securing six months of funding from New Orleans & Company – a private, funded by the ‘State marketing agency for the city’s tourism industry.
The patrol was initially launched in late 2017 with private donations from neighboring companies, but ended early in the coronavirus pandemic. Today, New Orleans & Company is resurrecting the program, using a government agency to run it.
The tourism agency will provide $ 600,000 to fund the patrols for an initial period of six months. The program will be overseen by the French Quarter Management District – a state-created public body that also oversees the Supplemental Police Patrol Program, which pays NOPD officers on leave to monitor the French Quarter.
The arrangement will be formalized in a cooperation agreement between the two organizations. Christian Pendleton, who chairs the FQMD board of directors, said he expected the contract to be signed on Friday and aimed to start patrols by the end of the month.
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The Royal Street Patrol will be made up of non-NOPD officers and will likely include police and probation and parole officers from the Levee Board, according to Pendleton. The patrol’s priorities will be “to ensure a visible police presence, to deter aggressive begging, alcoholic beverages and illegal sales, with the aim of fostering a clean and safe environment for the community”, according to the agreement.
Pendleton said the new patrols are a needed addition to regular NOPD officers and out-of-service NOPD patrols due to a shortage of officers within the department. He said creating a visible police presence in the region is essential as the city’s tourism industry tries to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. To do this, he said that it is necessary to turn to other police services.
âIt’s a sincere effort by everyone to try to make sure that when we get back from New Orleans, we come back in the best possible way,â Pendleton said. âAnd NOPD, quite frankly, needs some help right now. They’re short, and they’re going to get shorter before it gets better.
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The cooperative effort agreement states that the patrols will be managed through a contract with Matthew Pincus, a former NOPD officer and the son of the general manager of Hotel Monteleone, one of the many hotels located in the Royal Street Patrol patrol area. .
In an interview, New Orleans & Company Vice President of Communications Kelly Schulz emphasized the importance of public safety for visitors and residents. However, she didn’t answer many questions and said she didn’t know the deal or the details of the program.
Not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea. Ethan Ellestad, executive director of the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans, said he was concerned the program could be used to hunt street performers or as a private security force for hotels in the area.
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He stressed that non-NOPD agents are not subject to the ministry’s federal consent decree or the myriad of policies the ministry has put in place over the past decade to increase accountability and minimize harmful public interactions.
“These are two unelected bodies that use public funds to fund essentially a private police force for more than half a million dollars, which is headed by the son of an executive from one of the companies that back it. “, did he declare.
The cooperation agreement says patrollers will receive a list of orders specific to the French Quarter, but this does not require any additional training.
Pendleton said the reason for funding the Royal Street Patrol, instead of just investing more money in additional NOPD patrols, is that there aren’t enough NOPD officers available.
âI am less concerned about the financing of the [Supplemental Police Patrol Program] as much as i am concerned with bodies for [it], “he said.” Everyone is trying to find a way to make the French Quarter safer for everyone, knowing that NOPD’s resources are beyond constraints and limits. “
As for Elestad’s concerns about harassment or expulsion of street performers, Pendleton said that was not the program’s goal.
âThe French Quarter without a live performance would be boring,â Pendleton said. âWe are not here to jostle street musicians. It’s part of the culture and fabric of the French Quarter.
Pendleton also defended the hiring of Pincus, noting that he managed the program in its previous iteration from 2017, which gave him unique and valuable experience for the job. And he said a public tendering process would have taken too long.
âAll of these processes are good processes, but they take time. But the need for officers on the streets is now, “he said.” If there had been some kind of story of even questionable behavior, no we wouldn’t have done that. But we know him, we know what they did. He has close ties to the French Quarter, he knows this neighborhood.
Pendleton said he hopes the Royal Street Patrol will be a temporary measure while the NOPD resolves its personnel issues and begins to patrol more consistently.
“At some point the city has to be able to provide security without all of these different neighborhoods around the city showing up, whether it’s Lakeview or Mid-City or Garden District,” he said. . “Everyone is bringing up these extra safe quarters because they don’t get NOPD support. At some point we all need the city to replenish the NOPD staff.”