Concerned about recent acts of violence against police officers around the country, prominent attorney and Uptown resident Morris Bart has donated a system of security cameras to the New Orleans Police Department that fully surrounds the Second District building on Magazine Street.
Bart, who grew up in Uptown New Orleans before establishing his law firm in the late 1970s, has a history of supporting the Second District with improvements to the century-old station that the NOPD budget doesn’t include. In 2013, for example, he paid for the officers’ quarters at the station to be remodeled.
A few months back, Bart approached the district again looking for ways to help, and the conversation turned to security at the station, said NOPD Second District Commander Shaun Ferguson. That discussion led to Bart’s donation of a system of cameras around the entire perimeter of the building that can see down the surrounding block, and are monitored by the officer at the front desk.
“You hear about these random acts of violence against police officers,” Bart said. “Now, the whole perimeter of the station is protected by these HD cameras.”
Officer Nicole Honoré, who works the Second District station’s desk, said the system got its first major test toward the end of last month, when massive crowds gathered at Napoleon and Magazine for numerous Carnival parades.
“For Mardi Gras, I was here, and I could see everything,” Honoré said.
Ferguson said he initially imagined the cameras as helping keep an eye on the streets around the station as a standard crime-prevention tool, but Bart insisted on having cameras inside the building as well pointed at each door to the outside.
“His biggest concern coming in with this was officer safety. That was his biggest priority,” Ferguson said. “His concern was that front door. He wanted to make sure it catches the front door, anyone coming in and out of there, as a result of the police-involved shootings around the country, the Dallas Police Department and Baton Rouge.”
On Tuesday, Ferguson invited Bart back to the station for the weekly meeting of district supervisors in order to thank him publicly.
“There’s no agenda I have for doing this,” Bart told the officers gathered in the department’s roll-call room. “I love living in this area, and I truly appreciate what all of you do. I know it can be dangerous work, and quite often you don’t get the thanks you deserve.”