POSTED: Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 12:15pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 12:19pm
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WDSU) — New Orleans police are praising a controversial new curfew law in the French Quarter, saying it played a major role in keeping people safe during the Carnival season.
Police said curfew arrests made up 20 percent of all Mardi Gras-related arrests.
The New Orleans Police Department has been trying to crack down on teens out late in the Quarter. That's why a teen curfew banned children under the age of 16 on Bourbon Street after 8 p.m. during Mardi Gras festivals.
"The men and women of this department delivered folks," said NOPD Superintendent Ronald Serpas.
Serpas said a Mardi Gras curfew targeted at teens 16 and under was effective and that curfew arrests were up fourfold.
"One hundred ninety-three kids were picked up for curfew, compared with 38 last year. Fifty-five of those kids, or 28 percent, were picked up during the new hours. So, we are beginning to see the value of officers using a tool to help make children safe," said Serpas.
NOPD officers' efforts also didn't go unnoticed.
"I've seen much more police surveillance," said one Bourbon Street vendor, who asked to remain unidentified.
The vendor said she is often surprised at how many teens are out in the wee hours of the morning.
"Nine p.m. until all night -- it's a nocturnal thing," the woman said.
The woman said it's not necessarily that teens are the root of Mardi Gras trouble, but those under 16 should be protected from becoming victims of crime in the Quarter.
"Between ages 16-18, they are more of the menaces. I see a lot of kids starting fights, (and) first impression means a lot. You can tell if they're up to no good," the woman said.
John Burris mans the Lucky Dog stand.
"Young kids in general make bad decisions, and there are a lot of guns in general in New Orleans," Burris said.
Burris said he thinks the curfew should be extended.
"In the French Quarter itself, they could have it under age 21, because if they aren't drinking, there's no real point in them being here, anyway," Burris said.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu was out as Mardi Gras came to a close, saying he was proud of the NOPD and the community in general for using good common sense.
"Everybody in New Orleans has acquitted themselves once again. The whole world was watching. I think the story they saw about New Orleans was a great symbol of a city that continues to be a story of resurrection and redemption," said Landrieu.
The mayor said fewer crimes were committed this Mardi Gras as compared with 2011, with a 9 percent reduction in crimes reported against people and a 6 percent reduction in property crimes.
Meanwhile, there was an 84 percent increase in the number of summons issued, with 33 gun arrests, including 22 confiscated weapons in the Eighth District alone.
Serpas said his officers worked about 115,000 hours during the Carnival season.