With Mardi Gras coming up, the city of New Orleans is set to be a destination for tourists, locals and Louisianians around the state. But, simultaneously, crime in the French Quarter and the city, in general, is here and not going anywhere anytime soon.
In the weeks leading up to the Big Easy’s biggest week of the year, New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison has expressed serious concerns about the safety of residents in the city during Carnival being that there is a shortage of NOPD officers. Due to Harrison’s concerns, he has cancelled all of the vacation and requested time off that NOPD officers were supposed to get during the Mardi Gras week.
“And so while we’re inviting outsiders and guests to come into our home and help us, it would be very unfair for us to have our officers out having a good time in a parade, while we’re inviting guests to help provide us that safety,” said Harrison to the Times Picayune.
Naturally, some NOPD officers weren’t happy that their Mardi Gras vacation is being cut completely simply because the city’s police force does not have its act together. Via the Fraternal Order of Police, officers say Harrison did not give the notice early enough.
Crime in the city has been a longstanding issue, which Mayor Mitch Landrieu has attempted to address. However, efforts to curtail violent crime have not been entirely effective in the past.
Though NOPD has not yet released the fourth quarter crime statistics for rapes, robberies and assaults in the city, based on the first three quarters of 2014 alone, the crime stats surpassed crime stats from the entire year of 2010, which means the city has gotten progressively more dangerous under Landrieu.
In the first three quarters of 2014, there was a 24 percent increase in crimes against people and a 13 percent increase in property crimes.
Mardi Gras season is always crime-time for criminals, with nearly 27 people being killed in eight of the last 11 years.
While the NOPD is trying desperately to be helpful in an unfortunate scenario, Mardi Gras-goers should not depend on the police force during the week, mainly because it is almost an impossible task for the force.
Instead, traveling in large groups and remaining in well-lit and familiar areas are the best ways to ensure safety.