NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - In recent days, armed robberies on city streets have happened at a dizzying pace, and the police chief said his department has a comprehensive strategy to curb the crimes.
"There have been a lot, we know that many of them are related. We're not ready to say which ones are related," said NOPD Supt. Michael Harrison.
NOPD officers arrested a 15-year-old Thursday evening in the Gentilly area after a chase involving a silver car that had been linked to a number of other robberies. Police said two people in the vehicle fled on foot.
In neighboring Jefferson Parish, earlier in the week, Kenner Police nabbed a 15-year-old in connected with an armed carjacking.
"This is grown man behavior and I don't care if you are kid, I don't care if you're a grown man, if this is the life you choose prison will certainly be the price you will pay," Harrison said.
He said it is possible a group of teens is responsible for 20 or more armed robberies.
"That's very possible that they are related to as many as that number. We're working diligently to confirm that," said the chief.
"With the increased amount of gun violence over the summer, there's a lot of youth violence in terms of guns, a lot of our youths are struggling educationally and economically," said Ashraf Esmail, a criminologist at Dillard University in New Orleans.
Dr. Esmail has done researched and written about gun violence.
"In Louisiana, for example, we have the highest rate of children between the ages of 16 and 19 not working or in school. That's not a good sign, and so when they're not working and they're not in school, what are they doing?" Esmail said.
The armed robberies have a chilling effect on residents. Some said they are constantly looking over their shoulders when walking on city streets.
"They're fearful because you can be anywhere, any place, any time and somebody is going to attack you," said Esmail.
However, he said more police officers will not end gun violence.
"Putting more officers is not going to really solve the problem, because when people want to shoot somebody they're going to shoot. You can't have law enforcement standing next to you every, second, every minute every day," said Esmail.
"We've pulled a number of resources from the department to focus on this problem until we apprehend these people who are making conscious decisions to go out and terrorize our city," said Harrison.
So if you are confronted on the street by someone with a weapon demanding your property, should you put up a fight or should you comply?
"A human being's life is never worth the property that you're going to give up. We would ask that citizens be smart about decisions and those matters, and their lives in their own hands over minor property,please just give the perpetrator what he asks for to survive the encounter," said the police chief.
And police promise they will do their job in finding gun toting criminals who are taking from others.
"Make no mistake about it we are going to catch them," said the chief.