ProjectNola has expanded far beyond its original mission. In fact, it has grown monumentally in the services it provides, the information it shares, and the relationships it has built. It has grown in all aspects except one. And unfortunately, that one aspect is a critical one.
ProjectNola is a fully volunteer non-profit organization. The postings on Facebook meant to alert citizens to dangerous or troublesome situations are posted by volunteers. Those volunteers get the information through actual police dispatch and patrol unit interchanges over the police scanners. It is factual, accurate, and timely.
On any one day, the ProjectNola Facebook page gets hundreds of hits, and many postings receive comments from concerned citizens. However, at least once a week a message is posted asking what happened in a specific location. Sometimes, the question can be answered. But more often, it can’t.
The reason it can’t be answered is because no one was available to monitor the scanners during the time that incident occurred. A handful of volunteers put as many hours as they can into the monitoring. But it is too few spread too thin in a city that has a lot going on.
So many times when something horrendous occurs and is posted, at least one comment mentions wishing they could do something to help the city.
Well, folks, you are missing the cheapest, easiest, safest method of helping the city. It costs absolutely nothing but your time to help ProjectNola. Putting your information into the form to join the website and gain access to the scanners does NOT place you in jeopardy of being hounded for contributions, further requests for aid, nor is your information passed on to any other entity. It costs nothing to become a member, and will never cost you anything to monitor except participation. Free is as cheap as you’ll get. Monitoring the scanners is as easy as listening to a talk show. It is absolutely safe because you do it from your location, at your convenience – early morning, mid-day, late night - whenever you are available.
When you first start listening to the scanners it can be daunting, agreed. The dispatchers and units talk fast. But the more you listen, the more your ears become attuned to the phrasing and ways that units and dispatchers talk to each other. The major signals become second nature. Because only administrators can post alerts to the Facebook page, your online name will never be associated with your real name.
The results of your membership are tremendous. It expands the monitoring capabilities of ProjectNola. It allows you to understand much more clearly the actions and reactions of the New Orleans Police patrol units. You gain an understanding of both their level of service and the environment they work within. It provides you with information that is priceless when election rhetoric muddies the water.
Please consider exploring some volunteer time with ProjectNola. It would certainly be one of the most important yet easiest charitable contributions you’ll ever make.