New Orleans’s crime rate held steady last year compared with 2003, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. There were decreases in all categories except assault and burglary. The city had been on pace for a slight increase through the first nine months of the year, but a 12.3 percent drop in the last three months lowered the overal crime rate. Murder, the most closely watched crime, dipped for the first time in five years, with 265 killings in 2004 compared with 274 in 2003.
A close look at the numbers show several bright spots in the overall crime picture, despite the city’s stubborn homicide rate, which remains one of the highest per capita rates of any big city in the country. Simple robbery was down 15.2 percent, and armed robbery was down 9.9 percent. Police leaders hope to increase the ranks to 1,885 officers from 1,675. The nonprofit New Orleans Police Foundation believes the department is facing an uphill battle in hiring more officers than it loses.