When a city is suffering, leave it to private industry to come to the rescue.
Just yesterday, the French Quarter Business League handed over a $42,000 check to the French Quarter Management District to help fund an entirely new police unit, specifically designated to Bourbon Street.
With the check, comes the creation of the “Bourbon Patrol,” which will be a group of off-duty New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers who will be designated to keep the tourist area safe.
Alex Fein, who is the president of the French Quarter Business League, said 14 business owners decided to chip in funding for an off-duty NOPD task force, though they represent about 50-60 businesses along Bourbon St. Fein said each business put up about $1,200 to fund the Bourbon Patrol.
These business owners’ decision is something that may be new to other major cities, but for New Orleans, it has become usual that private industry has to help fund public entities.
Over the last six months, famed businessman Sidney Torres created a mobile crime app and a French Quarter Task Force, which he pays to patrol parts of the French Quarter.
Additionally, private businesses in the French Quarter have already pitched into Torres’ efforts to clean up the area from the upswing in violent crime that it has seen under Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
And on top of that, Landrieu has called in the Louisiana State Police to patrol the French Quarter, begging Gov. Bobby Jindal to sign off on a plan that will now keep the State Police in town over the course of 2015.
Still, these business owners are fighting for what many believe to be a lost cause. Under Landrieu, NOPD manpower has been dismal and his campaign to recruit more officers has not seen anywhere near the numbers he predicted.
Aside from these issues, what these business owners are doing is courageous, because at the same time they are being screwed over by the city. A group of businesses are fighting back against the now-effective smoking ban, which mandates that businesses prohibit smoking inside their venues.
So while many of these French Quarter businesses are fighting the city on over-regulation, they are also trying to help the city with a problem that has grown out of control.
That is selfless. That is New Orleans.