New Orleans saw dramatic decreases last year in its murder and non-fatal shooting total, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. In 2013, 155 people were murdered in Orleans Parish, a 20 percent drop from 193 the year before. The number of people who were shot and wounded fell by 15 percent, from 378 to 321. The reductions, while impossible to attribute to any one factor, were logged as the city launched anti-violence initiatives and as doctors and emergency medical technicians used different life-saving techniques, which they said resulted in the survival of more gunshot victims. Even with the drop, New Orleans continues to have one of the nation’s worst murder rates. In 2013, people were killed at a rate of 42 per 100,000 people, higher than the rate in Baltimore, Memphis and Chicago, among other cities.
The average for cities with a population over 100,000 is under 4, according to the FBI. This was the second year New Orleans’ murder rate dipped, after hitting highs in 2007 and 2011, leading to what the Times-Picayune calls “the menacing moniker of America’s murder capital.” City officials tout the mayor’s crime-fighting campaign, NOLA for Life, which focuses on gangs and groups believed to cause a disproportionate amount of the city’s violence. The broad strategy includes offering ex-cons opportunity to reform through assistance with education, jobs and housing. And for those who continue shooting, there are stiff consequences. “We have every reason to think it’s working,” said David Kennedy of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a consultant for the city.