New Orleans’ murder tally climbed for the second year in a row last year, ending at 176. It was the highest body count since 193 people were slain in 2012. Critics questioned whether Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s NOLA For Life murder-reduction strategy is having the impact the administration claims, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The year’s killings included domestic violence incidents inside homes, low-level narcotics dealers engaged in bloody turf wars and higher-profile cases such as the Nov. 27 mass shooting on Bourbon Street that left a bystander dead, nine others injured, and inflicted new scars on the city’s vital tourism industry. It was the second mass shooting on Bourbon Street since 2014.
Criminologist Peter Scharf, of LSU’s School of Public Health, said a second consecutive year with an increase in murders questions the Landrieu administration’s much touted strategy to reduce New Orleans high murder rate. “There is no articulable strategy on the part of the city,” Scharf said. “NOLA For Life, to this date, hasn’t been effective. And if someone is dying of cancer and the chemotherapy regimen doesn’t work, you don’t just keep doing the same thing. You go to something else.” The Landrieu administration disputes that assessment, pointing at lower proportion of killings among young African-American men, the program’s main focus. Landrieu spokesman Tyronne Walker said the administration not only stands by NOLA For Life, but is amplifying it this year. “Obviously, we’re seeing a spike (in murders) and we can’t run from that,” Walker said. “But we are confident in our strategy. … We’re doubling down on all parts of the strategy.”