Under the guise of public safety, the city of New Orleans is amassing a surveillance grid of video cameras, microphones, facial recognition technology, and license-plate readers.
“We will see you, we will know who you are, we will be able to apprehend you," Police Superintendent Michael Harrison told WVUE-DT. "We believe that will certainly give us the capacity to build great cases on the back end but it will give us a great deterrence effect on the front end."
His comment came during the unveiling of the city’s Real-Time Crime Monitoring center Tuesday, according to news reports. City leaders in January announced a public safety improvement plan in response to increased crime, especially areas popular with tourists, the New Orleans Advocate reported.
"If you can hear and you can see what's going on in real time and then you can communicate, and you have people forward then the chances of stopping crime from happening and then apprehending them has increased exponentially,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu told WVUE-DT.
The center features an array of cameras that feed into video footage from locations across the city. High-tech software will allow detectives to quickly hunt for people on the footage.
Aaron Miller, New Orleans’ Homeland Security director, told reporters police can request search video footage for suspects or victims wearing a certain color at a certain time, for example.
The city has already installed "80 surveillance cameras and 32 license-plate readers." The next several months will see the installation of an additional 250 cameras and 80 license-plate readers. All of that hardware comes in addition to the more than 2,200 cameras operated by Project NOLA, a nonprofit organization.
New Orleans media touted the surveillance system as a much needed way to ward off crime. They pointed to a November 2016 shooting on Bourbon Street that left one man dead and and nine people injured, according to reports.
Other plans call for a new ordinance that would require bars to install and maintain security cameras that will feed into the system.
The mayor reportedly said no one should expect any privacy in public areas, especially with today's technology.
"If you're out in public it is highly likely in this day and age that you're going to filmed by some camera, or somebody holding a phone. I just think that's the new day and age that we're in and people should conduct themselves accordingly,” Landrieu told reporters.
The center will have 24-7 staffing. People monitoring the surveillance system include civilian city employees and detectives "on a rotating basis," according to The Advocate.