Murder in New Orleans is worse per capita than it is in Chicago, and statistics from the first two months of the year suggest 2017 will be bloodier than 2016. There is no reason the murder rates must remain this high for the next half century, writes crime analyst Jeff Asher in the city’s Gambit. The city’s commitment to open data and new research into what works in gun violence reduction suggests murder in New Orleans is a problem that can be analyzed, understood, and ultimately addressed by policies and strategies designed to counteract its underlying causes.
Asher offers a four-point plan. Point one: Solve the police manpower crisis. There were 1,473 commissioned New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers when the Saints won the Super Bowl in early 2010 and just over 1,050 as 2016 came to a close. Point Two: Launch a better attack on the drug trade. Drugs, combined with related arguments and retribution, are the motive in nearly three-quarters of all killings, and nearly 90 percent of all New Orleans murders are rooted in drugs, arguments, retribution or robberies. Point Three: Concentrate on areas with the biggest homicide problems. Yale sociologist Andrew Papachristos urges sending “trauma specialists, interventionists and police if necessary.” Point Four: Invest in social intervention programs. City-funded programs should focus on providing employment, housing, education and mentorship specifically to the people most at risk for becoming victims of gun violence, and these resources cannot be devoted exclusively to the city’s children, Asher writes. Ninety percent of murder victims last year were over 20 years old, and their median age was 30.