New Orleans bars stay open for those needing chronic tonic

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A proposal to require New Orleans bars to shut their doors at 3 a.m. is being abandoned by Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration.

City officials first pitched the idea in January as part of a broad anti-crime plan. The idea was not to close bars down completely in the wee hours, but to decrease in-and-out traffic. It addressed what Landrieu called an "open pedestrian party" along Bourbon Street and other parts of a city known for all-night bars and legal drinking in the street.

Some bar owners questioned whether the policy would diminish crime — and whether it would hurt their income if it slowed the flow of customers.

The proposal was dropped after considering safety issues including fire exits and building capacities, Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni said in a news release this week.

Other aspects of the $40 million anti-crime program, some of which requires City Council approval, remain.

"The major focus is on using technology such as crime cameras and license plate readers to increase our intelligence in key hot spots," Berni's statement said.

City officials also continue to discuss changes to the city's alcoholic beverage outlet code that would require installation of external security cameras feeding in to a central command computer.

The plan was developed after a Thanksgiving weekend shooting on Bourbon Street killed one person and injured nine.

Officials said much of the money for the program will come from the state's Morial Convention Center, a major driver of tourist business in the city.

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