NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) After a thief stole a gun from one of the workers’ trucks, he drove in circles around them in a stolen car, and they didn’t try to run for fear of escalating the confrontation.
That was last week, in the Little Woods area of New Orleans, according to the workers. One supervisor at the scene decided it was too unsafe to continue that day, so as soon as the thief drove away, the workers left the jobsite.
That’s just one of the confrontations that a growing number of workers say they’re dealing with while on the job rebuilding the city’s streets. In other cases, their equipment has been damaged by gunfire or their cars burglarized by brazen criminals as the workers stand just feet away.
“We have seen a strange uptick in violence, and it has gotten increasingly more violent,” Andre Kelly told WGNO News. Kelly is the area manager for the group Louisiana Associated General Contractors.
Not only does the group help its members network and establish best practices, it also helps resolve issues between contractors and the municipalities that hire them. Recently, the group has been asking the city for help protecting workers who are repairing or rebuilding streets.
“Contractors can’t, like, we can’t have a guy in a hole in the street, doing his work on behalf of the city and having to duck bullets or whatever. Or having to worry about his property or where he’s parked,” Kelly said.
Kelly said that in other cases, workers found themselves caught in the middle of a gunfight only to have police close off the area with crime tape, bringing their work to an end for hours.
To find out more about what contractors want the city to do about protecting their workers, click on the video at the top of this story.
When we asked Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office for a response, a spokesperson issued the following statement:
Site security is a contractual responsibility of contractors. The City has expressly communicated the site security section of its contracts with both contractors and the Louisiana Association of General Contractors (LAGC) on multiple occasions. The City’s Office of Police Secondary Employment (OPSE) is a resource that has been provided to contractors as well as the LAGC and is routinely used by contractors as a means of hiring off duty NOPD officers for security use on job sites.Spokesperson for Mayor LaToya Cantrell