Mobilizing For Mardi Gras: NOLA Tourism Adds Funding For More Police

Whenever February rolls around, the city of New Orleans ramps itself up with high expectations for their biggest annual party: Mardi Gras. The festival, which ends this year on February 17th, is chock full of excitement and fills the city with millions of visitors. The surge forms the opening of the city’s spring tourism season, now bolstered by more conventions and attractions that have set up shop in the Crescent City, like the French Quarter Festival and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. However, this has raised certain concerns among both the tourism professionals of New Orleans and city officials. So much so that the New Orleans Visitor & Conventions Bureau has made a major financial commitment to the city’s security to the tune of $2.5 million dollars.

The contribution was announced this past Tuesday as part of a plan to further combat a months-long upswing in violent crime in the city. Residents of the historic French Quarter district, highly regarded as a prime tourist destination, have borne witness to some of these incidents. This past summer, there was a horrific gunfight that erupted on Bourbon Street that left one person dead and nine others injured. This was in line with the number of armed robberies within the area rising to 60 since last November. Mitch Landrieu, mayor of New Orleans, has gone on record, stating that their police force is significantly beneath their desired tally of 1,600 officers on duty. Not exactly the ideal situation for a metropolitan city to have when the average guest occupancy percentage within New Orleans hotels during the Carnival season keeps steady at over 90 percent. But Michael Harrison, the current police commissioner, has expressed that there is a vigorous recruiting campaign now up and running.

The financial contribution from the New Orleans Visitor & Conventions Bureau will be allocated towards an overall security strategy. First, funds will go towards an initiative to get retired officers to form an auxiliary police force that will support currently serving officers. Monies will also go towards overtime for officers and lodging for officers of the Louisiana State Police brought in to assist the city’s police force.