City Council to Withdraw Ordinance Requiring Increased Surveillance

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The New Orleans City Council has dropped plans to consider an ordinance that would require certain businesses to install surveillance cameras amid increasing criticism of the proposed law.

Originally part of a plan by Mayor Mitch Landrieu to add hundreds of cameras across the city that monitor residents 24 hours a day. Any business that sells alcohol would have been required to install exterior cameras with the feed sent to the city’s Real Time Crime Monitoring Center.

City Councilwoman-at-large Stacy Head introduced the ordinance. Katie Baudouin, Policy and Special Projects Advisory in Head’s office, said Head agreed to introduce the Buy Request Ordinance to create a public discussion on the licensure process involving businesses acquiring liquor licenses.

Initially set to reach the City Council agenda for a vote last December, the plan was criticized in a November 28, 2017 letter to the Council from the Office of Independent Police Monitor. Concerns included the potential for abuse, security and privacy issues. The letter also referenced a 2008 study by University of Southern California that stated that a “camera network made no statistically-significant impact on reducing violent crime, property crime, or quality of life crime.”

The ACLU of Louisiana similarly opposed the plan.

“This ordinance would put the city’s surveillance apparatus on steroids, subjecting New Orleanians to near-constant monitoring of their daily lives and stifling our vibrant public spaces without meaningfully reducing crime,” ACLU of Louisiana interim executive director Jane Johnson said in statement.