New Orleans Chief: “Ugly” Crime Rate Depends On Population


New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley is pinning his hopes on new training programs to help get his city out of a serious crime problem, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. His buttoned-down style contrasts starkly with that of his more emotional predecessor, Eddie Compass, earning Riley praise for steadying a foundering ship.

Riley contends many misread the crime numbers to exaggerate the violence, hurting the city’s image and efforts to rebuild. The chief’s detractors contend he puts an overly positive spin on the figures — and has been slow to release them — to hide an alarming reality and to protect his own reputation as a leader. “The numbers are just uglier and uglier. And they are ascending,” said University of New Orleans criminologist Peter Scharf about the city’s resurgent murder rate. Still, Scharf praised Riley for his leadership during a tough period. Crime statistics can’t be put into proper context without getting the city’s population right, Riley said. “Are we doing a great job, are we doing a mediocre job or is crime increasing? Nobody really knows,” Riley said. “If you say we have a population of 181,000, we have a crime problem. If we have a population of 240,000, then we are down in all categories of crime. If the population is above 270,000, then we are doing an absolutely great job.”


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