TUPD prepares to police Mardi Gras

Max Meyerhardt, Contributing Writer

As Mardi Gras approaches, TUPD prepares to protect student safety off-campus. (Elana Bush)

The Tulane University Police Department is preparing to ensure student safety in the Broadway Street corridor during Mardi Gras after a recent rise in crime near campus continues to concern students and residents. 

TUPD Chief Kirk Bouyelas said he is confident in the department’s rigorous preparations. 

“We are going to be all hands on deck,” he said. “All of our officers are going to be working for Mardi Gras.”

TUPD officers will focus on Broadway Street. The street, home to fraternity houses, the Boot Bar and Grill and the Palms Bar and Grill, is filled with students during the Mardi Gras weekend. 

For the last four years, what we’ve done is we’ve concentrated on the Broadway corridor line,” Bouyelas said. “That’s where we will be  — on campus and then off campus along the Broadway corridor. And that will be 24/7.”

TUPD will also add security to residence halls in addition to current security staff and will patrol campus in golf carts and bicycles. 

Bouyelas said TUPD’s increased presence is not meant to be overbearing but rather is meant to ensure that students celebrate safely. 

In the past month, the New Orleans Police Department’s second district, which contains Tulane’s campus and most off-campus residences, has seen over eight reported carjackings

Those reports have left some students and parents concerned about safety off-campus. 

“My parents have definitely been scared by the recent rise of crime, but I am confident with TUPD’s ability to keep us all safe,” sophomore Ryan Howard said. 

Dean of Students Erica Woodley addressed concerns in an email to students earlier this month.  

We have seen a spike lately in crime in the City of New Orleans, and the resources of the New Orleans Police Department have been stretched,” Woodley said. “Mardi Gras will make further demands on the NOPD. Given this, we feel it is more important than ever to make sure that you have the resources needed for a fun and safe Mardi Gras experience.”

Beyond campus, New Orleans as a whole closed 2022 with America’s highest rate of homicides per 100,000 citizens at 52 — making New Orleans the country’s “murder capital.” 

Students are not immune to the dangers associated with several days of celebrating.

Last year, on the morning of Fat Tuesday, or “Tequila Sunrise” to many Tulane students, TUPD responded to a stabbing outside of the Boot, located directly next to Tulane’s Uptown campus. 

The incident occurred around 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning after a 39-year-old man denied entry to the Boot stabbed six people –– including a Tulane student. All six victims recovered. 

Bouyelas praised his department for quick response time after the stabbing. 

“If one of our officers would not have been there and been equipped with a tourniquet and med-kit that might have ended up in a death,” he said. “Most of the people that I have talked to, the professionals, have said that officer’s quick thinking and use of a tourniquet probably saved their life. So I think it validates the need for us to be out there.”

In past years, TUPD sent officers to patrol parades on St. Charles Avenue, but that strategy forced officers to spread out across Uptown and made it difficult to quickly respond to incidents involving students. 

Four years ago, Bouyelas and his team adjusted their plan to be closer to Tulane.

This year, TUPD officers will remain on and around campus and will not be stationed along parade routes on St. Charles Avenue. New Orleans Police and TUPD work together during Mardi Gras, with NOPD covering parade routes and downtown and TUPD monitoring the area around Tulane. 

Tulane issues Mardi Gras safety tips each year. Those include using the Everbridge app, which allows students to report crimes, seek help if lost and document trips off-campus to ensure their safety.

Bouyelas emphasized the importance of the Everbridge App and its trip-documenting feature, which allows students to type in a trip they plan on taking such as walking from the parade route to a nearby store. If the student does not update the app when they have arrived at their final destination, TUPD will automatically be dispatched to help them. 

Dean Woodley highlighted other recommendations in her recent email to students:

  • Remain vigilant of surroundings
  • Charge cell phone and always have a backup battery
  • Travel in groups in well-lit areas
  • Set a meeting point with your group in case somebody gets lost

“We want people to enjoy Mardi Gras. We want our students to enjoy Mardi Gras,” Bouyelas said. “We want them to have that experience, we just want them to be safe.”

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