NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Just four days into the New Year, the NOPD is already investigating 13 armed robberies across the city.
"Nothing is shocking in New Orleans, but I'll be a little weary of myself being out at night," says Sean Stalker.
The NOPD says in 2017, it will once again focus on armed robbery investigations. Deputy Chief Paul Noel says it's a carryover from the department's commitment last year, when the TIGER team was formed. It's a small unit that gathers intelligence and conducts proactive work to combat serial armed robbery cases across New Orleans.
"We had a 10 percent decrease in armed robberies in the Seventh District, which includes New Orleans East. We also had a 12 percent decrease in armed robberies in 2016, so that's something we're really proud of," Noel says.
The TIGER team, working alongside district investigators, arrested 23-year-old Curtis Belton Tuesday night (Jan. 3). Belton is accused of committing an armed robbery in the Bayou St. John neighborhood Monday morning, in addition to at least five other armed robberies that police say he committed between November and December of last year.
"So that's one thing that we did a better job of in 2016, which was identifying those trends across district lines and being able to hunt those armed robbers down and capture them," says Noel.
Noel says it's something the NOPD is hoping to build on in 2017.
"So, we're going to do things to make that a more robust unit. We're taking a lieutenant who was working part time, and he's going to be assigned full time to the TIGER team," says Noel.
The Deputy Chief says the best way to prevent armed robberies is to find the people committing the crimes now, and get them off the street before they strike again.
He also believes educating the public in 2017 will help.
"We want to educate the public to lock and secure the firearms so we don't put additional fire arms on the street," says Noel.