The crime wave that hit New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina shows little sign of abating, more than two years after city officials said the problem was among their top priorities, reports USA Today. The rates of killings and most types of property crime have kept pace with the city’s population increase. Sporadic violence marred the city’s famed Mardi Gras celebration since Saturday, with at least nine people wounded by gunshots.
The number of thefts reported in the first 10 months of 2007 was 51 percent higher than the same period in 2006; the number of robberies increased 54 percent. Crimes are increasing despite an aggressive federal, state and city campaign that includes patrols by the National Guard and state police. Turf wars between drug dealers who are vying for a smaller pool of users. Burglars are taking advantage of near-empty neighborhoods to steal lumber and copper wiring from half-built homes. New Orleans had 1,720 officers before Katrina, when the city’s population stood at 455,000. The force has fewer than 1,500 today. The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center estimated in December that there were about 320,000 residents. There are more police officers per 100,000 residents inow (469) than before the storm (378.)