Last fall, after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin repeatedly declared that the city had become one of the safest in the country. With a new hurricane season set to begin today, New Orleans residents are worried again about homicides, the Boston Globe reports.
Violence has returned to the city. There have been 44 homicides so far this year, including 13 in April and 10 in May. While these numbers are well down from the 109 that had occurred by this time a year ago, the city’s population is down as well. An estimated 221,000 people live in New Orleans now. Using that estimate and current murder totals, the city would be on pace for 43 murders per 100,000 people in 2006. In 2004, the city had 57 murders per 100,000, making it second to Camden, N.J. Peter Scharf , a criminologist at the University of New Orleans, said the city is safer than before, but not by much. New Orleans today would still have one of the top 10 highest murder rates in the country. Many residents fear it will get worse as more criminals return to lay claim to old drug turf in the place they still call home.