NEW ORLEANS, LA— Today, Louisiana Office of Alcohol & Tobacco Control (ATC) Commissioner Troy Hebert announced he is hiring additional agents in New Orleans to assist with Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s NOLA FOR LIFE plan. ATC’s new hires include several additional full-time enforcement agents and 10 reserve enforcement agents. ATC’s plan is to provide added resources to the city of New Orleans and the New Orleans Police Department to help address the city’s murder epidemic.
“Reducing violent crime and murder and making New Orleans safe has been and will continue to be the most important issue facing this city and its future, and this partnership with the ATC will help us to do this,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “Quality of life in our neighborhoods is vitally important in our fight to reduce murder and violent crime. We are tirelessly working to improve safety, and by enforcing the laws on the books, we believe we will be able to target hot spots and nuisance bars and corner stores. We will continue to investigate nuisance bars that serve as breeding grounds for violence and crime. This is about improving quality of life.”
“The Greater New Orleans Area is very important to ATC,” said Commissioner Troy Hebert, Louisiana Office of Alcohol & Tobacco Control. “We are excited and honored to be a part of this initiative and to be able to assist Mayor Landrieu and Superintendent Serpas in achieving their goal of changing a culture of death into a thriving culture of life.”
Today’s announcement highlights the Landrieu administration’s focus on rebuilding neighborhoods and creating safer and cleaner places to live and work for all New Orleanians.
"The NOPD enjoys a strong and productive working relationship with the ATC. Today's announcement of additional ATC agents will increase our visibility and enforcement capacity to make our neighborhoods safer,” said NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas.
“Nuisance ABOs disturb the quality of life of a community and should be investigated and penalized accordingly. I applaud the Administration and ATC Commissioner Hebert for dedicating more resources towards eradicating this citywide problem,” said At-Large Councilmember Stacy Head.
“We are very grateful to the State and ATC for providing these much needed resources to the City,” said District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer. “Problem bars and night clubs are one of the main complaints we receive from constituents throughout our neighborhoods. We thank the ATC for their great partnership and look forward to our continued work together.”
ATC Agents have already begun teaming up with NOPD’s District Commanders, Quality of Life Officers, and the local Alcoholic Beverage Outlet (ABO) Prosecutors to tackle problematic businesses that contribute to high crime rates. Additionally, ATC will now dedicate agents full-time to working with residents and business owners in high crime communities to facilitate rebuilding and improving the neighborhoods. Community revamp projects are successfully underway in the Hollygrove and St. Roch neighborhoods, and plans are in the works to rapidly move to other high murder rate neighborhoods throughout the city. Hebert hopes these additional personnel hires will help Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas achieve their goal of changing the culture of death into the culture of life.
On Sunday, July 15, the City of New Orleans inspected two problem bars in the Central City area. Participating in the inspections were the NOPD 6th District Task Force, State ATC Agents, and Louisiana Probation and Parole Agents. The two locations visited were Al's Bar located at 1333 South Saratoga Street and Daiquiri Place Cafe located at 1401 Saint Charles Avenue.
Al’s Bar was chosen due to its local permits being expired. It was discovered that the location was open and illegally serving alcohol. Numerous violations were found at the bar and a citation was issued to the location for violating the following statues:
26:75/275 - operating on an expired permit;
26:76/276A5 - current permit not posted properly;
26:143/370 - No books or invoices available 55:305A - no acts prohibited posted;
26:905 - selling tobacco without a permit;
26:150B4 - alcohol not from a wholesaler;
26:91A1/287A8 - employing a convicted felon; and
26:91 A2/287A1A - failure to report a manager.
NOPD also cited the manager for operating without a local permit. No arrests were made at this location but the location was shuttered.
The second location, Daiquiri Place Cafe located at 1401 St. Charles Avenue, was inspected and no state violations were found. However, the location was in violation of an existing City consent decree. Because of past problems, the location is required to have security and a manager on duty at all times, but it did not on Sunday. One arrest was made by Probation and Parole for a violation with their office.
Alcoholic Beverage Outlets operating in violation of their permits can become sites of violent incidents and create noise, litter, and parking violations that interfere with neighbors' quality of life. In 2009, only 32 ABO prosecutions occurred. Due to a successful commitment to better enforce nuisance establishments, there have been 96 prosecutions alone in the 2nd quarter of 2012. Nearly 400 prosecutions have occurred since January 2011.
"We have been more aggressive than ever on nuisance bars and the enforcement against these establishments and tough execution of ABO regulations has garnered extremely positive results,” said City Attorney Richard Cortizas. “We will continue to work tirelessly to prosecute these offenders and by doing so, make our city safer for all residents.”
In 2011, the City Law Department received additional funding that allowed the hiring of an additional attorney to try these cases.
The Law Department has also netted increases in ABO tax collection; currently 94% of ABO tax cases are resolved within 60 days. This showcases the efforts to improve citizens’ quality of life by ensuring compliance with ABO regulations.
In May, Mayor Mitch Landrieu released NOLA FOR LIFE: a comprehensive murder reduction strategy, containing new and existing initiatives to improve public safety in New Orleans. Building on the work of the Mayor’s first two years in office, the NOLA FOR LIFE plan includes new initiatives that have an immediate and urgent focus on stopping the shootings. Recognizing that law enforcement alone cannot solve the murder problem, the NOLA FOR LIFE plan takes a holistic approach to get to the root of the problem, and divides the plan into five main categories:
• Stop the Shooting;
• Invest in Prevention;
• Promote Jobs and Opportunity;
• Improve the NOPD; and
• Get Involved and Rebuild Neighborhoods.
Mayor Landrieu tapped NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas, Criminal Justice Commissioner James Carter and Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo to lead this effort on behalf of City Hall.