January 22nd, 2007 06:54 EST
FEMA Joins With Law Enforcement In Fighting Crime In New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office met today with local authorities to address growing concerns with criminal activity in the New Orleans area.
During the meeting, FEMA discussed support for local law enforcement with their crime fighting efforts:
- FEMA is augmenting security at group sites with reportedly high criminal activity, and we are reassessing our options for security at commercial sites.
- FEMA is expediting projects related to the criminal justice system, which was identified as one of the city’s top recovery projects.
- The process for requests from law enforcement for information has been streamlined.
- FEMA has met with law enforcement officials to explain the streamlined procedures for sharing information on residents at FEMA trailer sites.
- Additional staff will also provide a greater FEMA presence in group and commercial parks, distribute flyers and expand the call center to take calls from applicants reporting security concerns. The number that the community can call is 1-888-294-2822.
- Volunteer Agency (VOLAG) staff will coordinate and enlist community volunteers to organize neighborhood watches.
- All law enforcement jurisdictions are asked to treat commercial and FEMA trailer sites as part of their communities and provide patrols to these neighborhoods just as they would patrol other neighborhoods in their jurisdictions.
FEMA has worked closely with law enforcement at our commercial sites for drug sweeps and sting operations and recently assisted with an AMBER Alert at one of the group sites. To date, there have been more than 200 evictions for criminal activity in FEMA group sites. FEMA has increased the number of FEMA park managers from 25 to 77. FEMA park security reports criminal activity to park managers and provides detailed incident reports to local law enforcement when criminal activity occurs at the sites.
To date, more than $194.1 million has been obligated to Orleans Parish for damages to its criminal justice system. Specifically, $120.3 million has been obligated to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) for such costs as the replacement of law enforcement vehicles, the preservation of case documents and records and repairs to permanent facilities including the Recruitment and Applicant Investigation Division and the Headquarters building on Broad Street. Funds were used to provide emergency equipment and supplies for the 911 Call Center in New Orleans. Recipients of FEMA monies obligated for the Orleans Parish criminal justice system include the District Attorney’s Office, the Orleans Parish Criminal Courts and others. Included within the Orleans Parish total funding was $7.1 million that was used to construct temporary jail facilities on Gravier Drive and South White Streets.
FEMA is reviewing options to identify other federal funding that may be available to assist law enforcement.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.