NOPD: Efforts against gang violence paying off

New Orleans Police say a different approach at battling gang violence is paying off.

"Over the last couple years, we've done a tremendous amount of work holding gang members accountable for their crimes in the city of New Orleans," said Police Chief Ronal Serpas.

Serpas says since forming the Multi-Agency Gang Unit in 2012, he's seen more than 80 indictments and eight gangs dismantled.

"There is no question in my mind that in the last 18 to 24 months they see a different police department, a different prosecution package," said Serpas.

He credits teamwork. Prosecutors, local, state, and federal law enforcement have been working together and sharing information. Serpas says even the gang members are valuable tools.

"They are also now seeing that their friends, people who they think are their friends are saying I'm not taking the L-train, a life sentence," said Serpas. "I'm going to find a way to get that off me and onto someone else."

Tulane University criminologist Dr. Peter Scharf says it all starts with police being in the know.

"The probability of deterrence, [gang members] getting caught through these information sources, they're going to be a lot more conversational," said Scharf. "A lot of these interrogation require an information starting point."

The NOPD says the murder rate is down this year over last year, and in 2013, the rate was 20 percent lower than 2012.

But those numbers don't mean much to activist Al Mims with the Victims and Citizens Against Crime. Mims says not everything is gang related, and the violence in still there.

"We can do better," said Mims. "They say less people are dying, but they're still getting shot."

And that is something NOPD says they're constantly striving for.

"We want a city of peace, a city of safety. We're really beginning to see a city that says 'that's enough' when something happens," Serpas said.

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