In New Orleans, Surveillance Cameras Help Catch Criminals

Jun 30, 2014

Ten people were wounded in a shooting early Sunday morning on Bourbon Street. One of the victims remains in critical condition, four others are hospitalized in stable condition.

A high-definition, robotic camera on the balcony of a popular karaoke bar called the Cat’s Meow caught it all on tape: First, total chaos, then bystanders rushing in to help the victims.

The camera belongs to the EarthCam company, which has a network of webcams streaming video from interesting locations, like Times Square in New York and the beaches of Santa Monica, California. The company said the Bourbon Street camera was not there to catch criminals, but to showcase the colorful characters of New Orleans and the “excitement” of Bourbon Street.

In recent years, the number of surveillance cameras used to solve crimes In New Orleans has been growing.

There’s Project NOLA — a network of hundreds of private security cameras across the city that makes recordings available to law enforcement if there’s a problem. And the French Quarter has its own crime camera network that is now used citywide — SafeCams8.

Bob Simms is the security task force coordinator for the French Quarter Management District .

“I would say that probably half the crimes in the quarter are being solved by video cameras,” Simms says. “NOPD resources are very thin right now. This is a way for citizens to help protect themselves. It’s the neighborhood watch of the 21st century.”

The shooting happened as New Orleans prepares for a major summer tourist event: The annual ESSENCE Festival opens Thursday and runs through the Fourth of July weekend.

Police have not released further details about the shooting victims, other than to say that some of the victims were tourists.