New Orleans support group holds conference to curb crime

New Orleans support group holds conference to curb crime

In July, Rhonda Duplessis's life changed forever. Her 18-year-old son, Joseph, was killed in the 2600 block of Belfast.

"Joseph was a humble child, he loved to smile, he loved to draw, and he loved sports," said Duplessis.

Shortly after Joseph died, Duplessis joined the group "Helping Mother's Heal" in hopes of doing just that. She's among the dozens of mothers, fathers, and family members at the conference who want to make sure what happened to them, doesn't happen to someone else.

"The death of your child is a terminal disease. It affects every system in your body - and there's no pain pill that can suppress what's your going through," explained Duplessis.

At the first ever conference hosted by the group, city leaders answered questions and talked about causes and solutions to the violence.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison also addressed the group.

"It's your tears that motivate us to search to the ends of the world to find the answer to questions that you have," said Harrison. "Who did this.. why?"

The NOPD says their efforts to cut down crime has been working:
- In 2012, the department reported 193 murders. 
- That number dropped to 156 in 2013.
- And so far, the city of New Orleans has seen 122 murders.
Harrison says it's the lowest number of murders the city has seen in the last 30 years, but there's still more work to be done.

"It's going to be collaborative effort between the police department and the community," said Harrison. "We need to know how they feel, we need to know what the dynamics of their situations are - so we can best address it."

Organizer Pat Watson says it's all part of the healing process.

"They really need to know there is faith, there is hope, and there is future," said Watson.

A goal Rhonda Duplessis says she's been slowly moving towards.

"You have to go through it. You have to deal with it because there's no way around it," said Duplessis.

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.