Personal Safety

Safety Tips

The Police of New Orleans are among the friendliest officers we've ever met, despite what you may have heard in past years. With new leadership and better pay, the city has taken steps to better serve it's citizens and it's tourists. But the police can't be everywhere so keep your wits about you like you would in any big city.

Anytime the sun was up, we found the French Quarter to be pretty safe. The area along the N. Rampart St. side of the Quarter, and some parts near Esplanade are probably not safe any time. Everywhere else, the problems are more likely after dark.

So, the standard rules that most well traveled folk follow should apply here:

Finally -Leave very valuable possessions at home. Nobody needs to travel with lots of jewelry, and with ATMs everywhere, there's not a big reason to walk around loaded with cash. If you purchase something valuable from a reputable dealer, they will ship to your home address.

Street Scams

Outside of the occasional pushy street person ("bet I can tell you where you got your shoes!"), we have been threatened only once and mildly at that. In fact, the worst thing that's ever happened to us was falling for a couple of street scams. These take the form of a friendly stranger walking up to you and attempting to shake your hand. He or she will look like a typical Bourbon Street character, but he wants something. These scams follow one of an array of strategies:

Further notes on street scams, according to "Big Ray" Jones - the Buggy Driver, who is a good guy to ask about New Orleans, especially the French Quarter: On a more serious note: The Dec. 1996 Issue of Money Magazine listed New Orleans as the most dangerous city in the U.S.   Four people were murdered during the week we were in New Orleans in 1992. During our 1/6/97, two children, watching television in their home in the Carrollton area, were hit by stray bullets fired from the street. One of the kids died as a result. Also, across the river in Algiers, a daylight robbery resulted in the murder of a shopper at a local strip mall. This November '99 a bullet riddled body was found in City Park and a couple of murders involving family disputes occurred.
Of course, we've not witnessed any of these crimes ourselves.

Anyway, all this sounds like a typical week in any big city in which we've ever lived or visited. Like every place else New Orleans was feeling the pinch of a sagging economy in the 1990s (i.e., gangs, robberies, muggings, poverty, homelessness, etc.) - the vast majority of murders seem to center around drug activity and have little to do with tourists.

Ed Branley, of Virtually New Orleans on the web, maintains that murder and assault doesn't usually apply to tourists visiting the French Quarter:

The old NOPD has evolved under the guidance of new police superintendents into a modern, effective agency for social control. The police we've talked to are friendly and helpful - the last thing they want to do is arrest someone - but the will if met with unreasonable behavior.  There is a police station smack in the middle of the French Quarter (the 8th District Station House), and patrol officers on foot and horseback move up and down Bourbon St.

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