In recent days, there has been a shooting on St. Charles Avenue, as a passenger on the Streetcar was injured. In addition, an individual was killed on Frenchman Street, a music destination that has become quite popular in recent years.
Last weekend, 10 people were shot on Bourbon Street, the city’s premier tourist destination. It happened at 2:45 a.m. Sunday morning, while a large group of people were congregating near the intersection of Bourbon and St. Peter. This happened around the corner from Pat O’Brien’s bar and just two blocks from Jackson Square. This is literally the epicenter of our tourism industry.
The latest Bourbon Street incident is not isolated as there are regular reports of rapes, armed robberies and “knockout” attacks in the French Quarter and the surrounding area.
The victims are both citizens and an increasing number of tourists. In the Bourbon Street attack, some of the victims are undoubtedly tourists.
Not surprisingly, this crime made national and international news. It shows New Orleans as a cesspool of crime, an area that cannot protect local residents or visitors.
If the city gets a reputation as being crime infested even in tourist areas, this will devastate our image as a travel destination.
Last year, over 9 million visitors came to the Crescent City and tourism officials want to attract 13 million people in 2018, the tri-centennial of New Orleans. None of this will happen unless New Orleans starts to make progress in fighting crime. Tourists will stop coming to New Orleans if they do not feel safe.
According to New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas, the Bourbon Street shooters were “two cowardly young men,” who tried to settle a score with gunfire. Hopefully, the perpetrators of this horrific crime will be brought to justice very soon. However, we have no guarantee that they will remain behind bars once arrested. New Orleans suffers from a revolving door criminal justice system in which criminals are back on the streets soon after committing their crimes. No doubt that once the shooters are arrested, citizens will learn that both of them have a long rap sheet of crimes. At some point, liberal judges let these criminals back on the streets to threaten more innocent civilians.
Voters in New Orleans need to demand judges put the interests of victims and citizens ahead of criminals. Judges who do not have a law and order mentality need to be sent packing. New Orleans needs some St. Tammany Parish type justice, which emphasizes incarceration over rehabilitation. We have tried the path of coddling the criminals and it has not worked, so a change in priorities is desperately needed.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu also must look at his police department and examine why so many officers are leaving. The number of police officers has fallen dramatically during Landrieu’s tenure. Today, some insiders report that the real number of police officers is fewer than 1,000, which means the department has declined 50% since Landrieu entered office in 2010.
An increasing number of criminals and a decreasing number of police officers is a toxic combination for New Orleans. We have liberal judges, a revolving door criminal justice system and too few jail cells, according to Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman.
The time for studies and press conferences is over. It is time for concrete action to prevent this crisis from becoming a catastrophe that threatens the jobs of the 80,000 people who work in the tourism industry.
The Bourbon Street shooting is a wake-up call for a decisive battle plan to fight crime before it becomes too late for the city of New Orleans to recover.