NEW ORLEANS — City of New Orleans public safety officials, along with community and business leaders, today stood in support of the Surveillance Technology and Data Protection Ordinance set for City Council vote on Thursday, July 21. The “facial recognition” legislation will remove restrictions that prohibit the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) from using surveillance technology as a tool for criminal investigations.
“The women and men of the NOPD need to have every tool available at their disposal in order to keep our residents, businesses and visitors safe. Police departments across the country are reaping the benefits of facial recognition technology, and the time is critical for NOPD to join their fellow public safety agencies and embrace this technology in order to increase public safety and to take criminals off the street,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Increasing the use of technology continues to be a goal of my administration, and facial recognition aligns with this priority. This ordinance will enhance NOPD’s mission to protect and serve, and my administration hopes the City Council stands up, does the right thing and passes this important public safety ordinance.”
“To reduce violent crime in our city, we must exhaust all methods available to us that will allow the NOPD to do their job,” said Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Coordination Commissioner Tenisha Stevens. “Today, several business and community leaders are standing with the Cantrell Administration in support of this critical surveillance ordinance and ask the City Council to vote yes on tomorrow to enhance public safety in our city.”
“We want to utilize all resources available with safeguards in place to ensure that our police officers have every tool needed to combat crime,” said Director of Public Safety and Homeland Security Chief John Thomas.
“In New Orleans, technology has aided the NOPD and the District Attorney in arresting and taking violent offenders off the street. Technology has aided the Police Department and the District Attorney to not detain someone, to not arrest someone, and to not prosecute someone,” said New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation President and Chief Administrative Officer Melanie Talia. “With the proper guardrails in place, technology is an effective tool to keep the community safe.”
“The Business Community Crime Technology Task Force has worked to identify, assist with and implement technology solutions within the NOPD and the criminal justice system as a whole,” said Barret Conrad of the Business Technology Community. “This ordinance will help make police officers more effective in solving crimes making our streets safer for children and all citizens while protecting our rights.”
Additional community members attending the press conference in support of the amended ordinance included Acting President of the Lakeshore Property Owners Association Ray Landache and General Counsel of the Fraternal Order of Police Claude Schlesinger.
In December of 2020, the New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance that eliminated the use of surveillance technology including facial recognition, predictive policing and cell phone simulator technology tools that are used nationally by law enforcement agencies. The amended ordinance set to go before the New Orleans City Council tomorrow, if passed, will lift a band that is unique to NOPD and provide additional crime-fighting tools to enhance public safety and keep residents safe.
Community and business leaders ended the press conference with a call for residents to contact their City Council members and encourage them to support the amended ordinance.