Issued Tuesday, June 20, 2006 by the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau Inc.
The historic areas and tourism core of New Orleans have enjoyed the reputation for being a safe place to be for residents and visitors alike, and more so in the months following Hurricane Katrina. During this time, the city has seen a major reduction in crime. Visitors have enjoyed a high degree of safety and security while touring America’s most walkable city.
New Orleans is not unlike other major American cities. Drugs and criminal activity plague certain sections of New Orleans, as is the case with other places. The truth is New Orleans is under a microscope in the national and international media. Consequently, when such events as the recent murder of five youths occur, in addition to an escalation in violent criminal activity in parts of the city, the reports are magnified.
Many are confused about the recent news of the Louisiana National Guard’s deployment to New Orleans. They are being brought in to the city to provide assistance to the New Orleans Police Department in desolated areas of the city badly damaged by the hurricane, and where the majority of construction and restoration is now taking place. This request was made by the C. Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans and Police Superintendent Warren Riley weeks ago and was granted by Governor Kathleen Blanco.
This will allow more police officers to patrol the tourism and historic core of the city, enhancing the already very good safety record these areas enjoy. Residents and visitors alike can continue to feel confident in strolling the sidewalks of the French Quarter, Warehouse District, CBD, Garden District and Audubon Park area, enjoying all New Orleans has to offer.
Contrary to reports in the national news, the recent reprehensible murders of five youths in the city occurred at 4:00 a.m. in the sparsely populated Central City neighborhood miles away from the Central Business District, French Quarter, Convention Center and Warehouse Arts District. Unfortunately Central City has historically been the location for criminal behavior prior to Hurricane Katrina, and remains a “hot spot” for unlawful behavior. The murders have no bearing on any crime or safety issues in the areas of the city frequented by tourists.
Police investigating the situation are following strong leads that indicate vengeance was a clear motive, stemming from an incident that occurred in early May in neighboring Jefferson Parish.
The important point at this time is that city officials, including the Mayor, City Council and police department have taken swift action to address the additional increased patrols in the outlying, desolate areas of the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In fact, action was taken weeks prior to this past weekend’s events, but was not reported in the news, when Superintendent Warren Riley requested from the State the added support of the Louisiana National Guard.
The plan calls for 100 National Guard to immediately supplement the NOPD, boosted by an additional 200 in the near future. In addition, 60 state police will be assigned to the city of New Orleans. Other actions are being considered, including a juvenile curfew and improved coordination of various arms of the criminal justice system.
The safety of the residents of New Orleans and visitors to the city is paramount. While the city and the police department work very hard to insure the safety of all its residents and visitors, it is also recommended that individuals be mindful of their own behavior and surroundings at all times.
Recommendations for visitors:
• Enjoy all that New Orleans has to offer, including our delicious food, incomparable music and authentic culture.
• Part of the charm of New Orleans is that it is a very walkable city, with many hotels, restaurants and the Convention Center all within walking distance from each other and the popular French Quarter. As is the case with any other big city, visitors should be mindful of their surroundings at all times.
• Refrain from venturing into areas of the city that are sparsely populated, particularly after dark.
• For those who wish to take a shuttle bus from a hotel to the Convention Center, in most cases transportation has been arranged. Meeting attendees can confirm these arrangements with the hotel concierge or association meeting planners.
• Rely on hotel concierge and front desk associates, restaurant managers and the NOMCVB (566-5011) for any questions you may have.