Violent crime in New Orleans is up 31 percent compared with the same period in 2005, before Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. The biggest jumps occurred in rapes, 40 percent, assaults, 46 percent, and burglaries, 73 percent. Police Superintendent Warren Riley believes that the department regained its footing after a tumultuous two years of challenges including FEMA-trailer offices, depleted staff, low morale, and a fractured criminal justice system.
The latest statistics make clear the criminal justice system as a whole needs sustained reform, said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a private watchdog group. “Even with the most liberal population numbers, murder is up on a per-capita basis post-Katrina. Rape is up. Armed robberies are up, as are assault and burglaries,” Goyeneche said. “Those are indications that we need to change some policies within the criminal justice system.” The police have launched a major strategy change after a consultant’s report recommended overhauling the department to focus on community policing.