A Tulane University professor’s study puts New Orleans’ murder rate as the highest in the U.S., reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The study estimates the city’s 2006 murder rate at 96 per every 100,000 people. The study by demographer Mark VanLandingham, aims to fix the main flaw in previous per capita murder estimates for 2006: It takes into account the large change in New Orleans’ population during the year, with far fewer people in the city at the beginning of 2006 than at the end. That raises the murder rate substantially.
VanLandingham sought to bring hard fact to a debate between the Police Department and critics who say the it has downplayed the crime problem. The study also shows a steadily increasing murder rate since 2004. The murder rate for 2004 was 57 per every 100,000 people. In 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina hit, the rate was 65 per every 100,000 people. The study says last year’s murder rate was 68 percent higher than in 2004. The 2006 murder rates of other cities were exponentially lower than New Orleans’. Houston’s was 20 per 100,000 residents; Detroit was 41; Baltimore, 42; St. Louis, 32; Philadelphia, 25; and Newark 36.