As of New Year’s Eve, New Orleans’ murder total sat at 209, making it again a top contender for the country’s highest per-capita murder rate, a dubious title New Orleans held in 2006, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. A definitive per-capita rate remains elusive, because of varying estimates of the post-flood city’s changing population. But even by the most generous estimate, preferred by the New Orleans Police Department, the city’s murder rate is 67 murders per 100,000 people.
Compared with the nine other cities with the highest per-capita murder rates last year, New Orleans remains at or near the highest rate in 2007. Detroit and Baltimore are estimated to have about 47 and 45 murders, respectively, for every 100,000 people. Only Gary, In., a small city with a population of less than 100,000, might end up with a higher per-capita murder rate than New Orleans. Gary expects a murder rate of about 68 murders per 100,000 people, a figure in the middle of the range of estimates for the New Orleans rate. Atlanta, which had far fewer homicides than New Orleans — 126 homicides as of Dec. 26 — blamed the increase in killings there, in part, on a New Orleans-based gang that moved into town after Hurricane Katrina. Members of the “International Robbing Crew” are accused of killing at least seven people in Atlanta. New Orleans officers called the number of assaults, shootings, and robberies alarmingly high. Several officers and detectives say the city’s violence stems from a combination of high poverty and broken systems of schools, public housing, prosecution, and incarceration.