New Orleans officials detail steps to fight violent crime

January 27, 2007|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

NEW ORLEANS -- Mayor C. Ray Nagin, seeking to reassure his city, provided an update yesterday on steps being taken to combat a surge in violent crime - including increasing the use of surveillance cameras, placing more police on foot patrols and setting up a blitz of traffic checkpoints.

But many residents, frightened and angered by the crime that has left at least 14 dead since Jan. 1, said they were reserving judgment on the initiatives until they produce concrete results.

The mayor said that 50 cameras were operational and that within the next two months, 20 other crime "hot spots" would be placed under surveillance. Cameras would also be placed along St. Charles Avenue in time for next month's Mardi Gras parades, Nagin said.

Police Superintendent Warren Riley, who joined Nagin at the briefing, said at least 60 officers had been pulled off administrative duties and put on the streets three days a week; the department, he said, plans to use federal money to pay overtime for an additional 40 to 50 patrol officers.

The chief said that during their shifts, officers in every district would walk the beat for up to 90 minutes.

Fourteen sheriff's deputies also would help beef up patrols in certain neighborhoods, said Riley, who expressed gratitude to U.S. Justice officials who announced Thursday that additional federal agents and ballistics equipment would be sent to New Orleans.

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