NEW ORLEANS -- It's a Mardi Gras event that you do not want to be a part of. The Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office has its Booking Bus in place and ready to process anyone who lands on the wrong side of the law during the final big days of the carnival season.
The bus is centrally located in the French Quarter and provides law enforcement officers with a faster way to process suspects. Instead of taking people to the sheriff's office Inmate Processing Center in Mid-City, the Booking Bus allows for suspects to be photographed and fingerprinted in the French Quarter.
Those who are accused of committing lesser offenses could simply be issued a court summons. Others can be taken in groups to the IPC. Either way, the officers who are on patrol will be allowed to quickly return to the streets rather than leave the scene to transport a suspect to jail.
Offenses that will allow for suspects to be processed on-scene in the French Quarter include municipal, traffic, and some misdemeanor state charges.
According to the OPSO, the Booking Bus has been used for 14 years. On Thursday, February 28, Sheriff Marlin Gusman joined NOPD Superintendent Sean Ferguson and Louisiana State Police Captain Dean Behrens to provide reporters with a tour of the bus.
"This booking bus we estimate puts two officers back on the street and saves about an hour and a half of time every time a minor arrest is made. For major arrests it takes a little longer. But for minor arrests, it puts police officers on the street a lot sooner," Behrens told WGNO.
For the record, the bus itself is the brain of the operation, the communications hub that allows officers to check the criminal histories of suspects. The actual booking process takes place inside a tent that is adjacent to the bus.