There has not been a single killing in New Orleans, since the chaos that immediately followed Hurricane Katrina subsided, reports the New York Times. One of the nation’s most dangerous cities has suddenly become perhaps its safest, and what had easily been the U.S. murder capital now has a murder rate of exactly zero. Although several people were believed to have been killed in the disorder that followed the floods, the last killing officially recorded by the police was on Aug. 27, two days before the hurricane hit.
Up to 80,000 residents have returned among the city’s previous population of 450,000. Peter Scharf of the Center for Society, Law and Justice at the University of New Orleans estimated that there were as many as 20,000 participants in the drug culture in the city before the storm. No one is certain where they wound up. There have not been any noticeable spikes in crime in the cities that took in large numbers of hurricane refugees, including Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and other cities in the Southeast. Veteran New Orleans observers caution against jubilation over the precipitous drop in crime. It might not last, for one thing. “Both the perpetrators and the victims have been washed out,” said Lawrence Powell, a historian at Tulane University. “We’ve solved our crime problem in a brutally Darwinian way.”