New Orleans ended 2004 with 264 murders, a 4 percent decrease in fatal bloodshed from the previous year and the end of a troubling four-year run of increases, the New Orleans Times-Picayune says. Police Superintendent Eddie Compass attributed the drop to an increase in federal prosecutions for violent offenders, a stronger relationship with the district attorney’s office, a task force that reallocated scarce policing resources, and a coalition of ministers that took their faith to troubled neighborhoods.
Compass said he wouldn’t change strategy unless it was needed, but he plans to create a new tool to help the district attorney’s office identify repeat offenders in the hopes of keeping them behind bars longer. Eleven fewer people were slain on the streets of New Orleans in 2004, a year Compass said he and his district commanders were better administrators. They took lessons from a violent 2003, which recorded 275 slayings, he said, leading to the identification of a seven-square mile area known as the “hot zone.” While officers continued to saturate the area, they addressed new “hot spots” outside of the zone by creating an administrative task force last July. The initiative, which has taken nearly 100 officers, including top brass, from their desks to handle regular patrol duties one day a week, allows district officers to be more aggressive in heavy crime areas.