NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The shooting death of an NOPD officer's daughter is the latest in the City of New Orleans, contributing to what one criminologist describes as a 35 percent increase in the number of murders so far this year, compared to last.
"It's a disaster, and there's no way that it's a statistical anomaly," LSU School of Public Health criminologist Peter Scharf said.
Scharf tracks every murder in New Orleans. He says, "In 2014 we had 72, this year we have 96 so it's an increase of about 35 percent."
Scharf believes there are a number of factors; NOPD manpower issues, lackluster performance of preventive programs for youth and a criminal justice system with a revolving door.
In fact, the man just arrested for the murder of a police officer's daughter has a lengthy criminal history. According to court documents, Will Reed was previously charged with attempted first degree murder. After years of legal wrangling, the documents show he entered into a plea agreement with the state for lesser charges and received credit for time served. Just last month, a warrant was issued for Reed's arrest after he failed to pay fines and fees associated with his court appearance. Now he sits behind bars at Orleans Parish Prison, facing a second degree murder charge for the death of Milan Arriola.
"Until we step out and make a change, this unfortunately will happen again," Silence is Violence Executive Director Tamara Jackson said.
Jackson says that she's concerned about the rising number of murders and the fact that just two weeks after an NOPD officer was gunned down in the line of duty, a relative of another officer was killed. "It's definitely a black eye for the City of New Orleans that an officer has lost her daughter to violent crime however it's the gory truth of what exists here," Jackson stated.
Jackson believes the community needs to step up and do more to stop the violence. It's a sentiment echoed by Scharf, who places some blame on the reluctance of residents to help police and testify in court. "People have to wake up, if you want a safe city, you have to become part of the solution not part of the enablement," Scharf said.
Last year the city saw 150 murders. Scharf predicts this year, that number will be closer to 185.