Since July 2006 in New Orleans, there have been at least 95 murders per 100,000 residents, and possibly a higher ratio depending on how the city's depleted population is counted, criminologist Peter Scharf of the University of New Orleans told the New York Times. The Times says that frightened citizens now see their city as a stalking ground, roamed with impunity by teenagers with handguns – an image that may not be far off the mark.
An automobile-bound police department is reluctant to walk the streets and interact with residents. It is at war with the district attorney's office, which is prosecuting seven officers for a deadly shooting soon after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. Judges regularly rule in favor of criminals. Moving back to town, in many cases, are “kids with guns, and without parents,” said Scharf. The police, feared and hated by the city's poor, get no cooperation from them in solving crimes. Aarrests are usually not for crimes of violence, but for drugs. Such arrests constitute 65 percent of the city's total, twice the national average, according to the independent Metropolitan Crime Commission. Chief FBI agent James Bernazzani cites “local institutional dysfunction, a population that wasn't educated, and a state judicial system that doesn't mete out consequence for criminal activity. And you've got a citizenry that doesn't cooperate.”