Many of New Orleans’ newest security cameras feature flashing red and blue lights.
That’s both to deter criminals and let neighborhood residents feel more secure, said Aaron Miller, the city’s head of homeland security and emergency preparedness.
“It lets people know there are public safety resources in the neighborhood,” he told the New Orleans Advocate.
There are now surveillance cameras in all eight police districts, and by Mardi Gras about 70 will be in the district that includes the French Quarter and Central Business District, Miller said.
Another dozen are being installed along the uptown, mid-city and westbank parade routes, though they may be moved after Mardi Gras.
The city’s $40 million security plan includes $8.5 million worth of security cameras.
The plan originally called for 200 cameras in 10 “hot spot” neighborhoods, plus mobile cameras. Miller says the first cameras were cheaper to install than expected, so there will be about 250.
ProjectNOLA, a nonprofit with its own security camera network, posted on its Facebook page last week that a resident had complained to it about the lights shining into the resident’s home, thinking it was a ProjectNOLA camera. Miller said that resident later contacted the city, crews realized the camera was set up facing the wrong direction, and fixed the problem.
Other elements of the safety plan include bollards to block vehicles from crashing into crowds on Bourbon Street, mobile barriers that can be set up in other parts of the French Quarter, and devices that can detect chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or explosives, Miller said.
He said there are no known specific threats, but city, state and federal agencies will be doing a threat assessment, as they have for previous Carnival seasons.
He said crimes like last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas “have us making sure we’re doing everything we can to make sure public safety is equipped and ready.”