Despite a bloody Christmas holiday, New Orleans in 2018 registered its lowest number of murders in nearly half a century, and other key gun violence statistics also saw important drops. It is a sign of modest progress in the city’s most intractable crisis, The Advocate reports. There were 146 people murdered in New Orleans in 2018, with three additional killings having been deemed justifiable. It was the lowest annual murder toll since 1971, when there were 116 slayings. It was the second year in a row the number of murders had fallen in New Orleans, which recorded 157 in 2017, down from 174 in 2016. In past years, skeptics of New Orleans’ violence-reduction efforts noted that other violent crimes had not seen similar decreases. In 2018, though, the 47-year low in murders was accompanied by a 28 percent drop from 2017 in non-deadly shooting incidents. Armed robberies fell for the third year in a row, and the number of carjackings came down as well, according the City Council’s Criminal Justice Committee.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison tasked a special team of tactical officers and detectives with removing repeat violent offenders from the streets, no matter how long the cases took to build, and he said they’ve delivered results. Another tool is an expanding network of street surveillance cameras, which in some cases have produced high-definition images of criminal suspects. Crime analyst Jeff Asher said it is reasonable to credit the NOPD’s efforts as a meaningful contributor to the improved numbers. He said other factors have almost certainly also driven the numbers down. The drop in homicides will ensure New Orleans was not the most murderous U.S. city in 2018 on a per-capita basis, a title the city has held several times since Hurricane Katrina.