High-profile robberies have rattled New Orleans’ French Quarter and led to criticism of the police and the mayor, who are rethinking safety measures, NPR reports. Over the next few weeks, more visitors will roam the French Quarter, drinks in hand, for Mardi Gras. Some of the Quarter’s iconic wrought iron balconies hold signs reading: Caution. Walk in large groups. We love N.O.P.D. We just need more. Resident Bryan Drude got a sign from his neighbors, who printed hundreds of them, after a man was stabbed and robbed on their street last month. Drude wants more police on foot. French Quarter businessman Sidney Torres bought TV ads. His home was robbed last month. This month, armed robbers attacked the bar next door to him.
The ad announces: “The French Quarter is under siege by criminals. The problem can be fixed. It is only 6 blocks by 13 blocks. We should hold the administration accountable for the failures of not protecting the French Quarter …” Having enough people is the big problem. Years of attrition have dwindled New Orleans’ police force. The city has upped its recruitment budget and applications have risen 300 percent. It still takes a year to get recruits on the streets. The city is starting NOLA Patrol–40 uniformed security guards who will walk the Quarter. Mayor Mitch Landrieu wants more state police.