N.O. murder rate falls; shootings still up

N.O. murder rate falls; shootings still up

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Fewer people were murdered in New Orleans this year compared to the same time period in 2016. So far this year, 119 people were murdered compared to 121 people last year.

"We are down two homicides compared to the same time last year, but if you look over five years or even further than that, we're down those years as well," says NOPD Chief Michael Harrison.

Harrison says the decrease has a lot to do with the NOPD's holistic approached to stopping violent crime.

"The entire group reduction strategy, the Street Gang Unit, and the entire NOLA for Life program made a difference," he says.

While murders are down, shootings across New Orleans are up. According to the NOPD's calls for service data, there were 247 shootings so far this year compared to 197 shootings last year.

"The increased amount guns and gun violence has been on the rise. There's a larger access to guns. It's got to be one of the issues that they nationally want to address," says Ashraf Esmail.

Dillard University criminologist Esmail says it does, though, appear the NOPD is working to combat shootings in New Orleans.

"Now certainly since 2012, there's been an emphasis on NOLA for Life and Ceasefire. There's been an emphasis on gangs and mentoring, along with projects to engage employment," says Esmail.

Harrison says while there's a 20 percent increase in shootings, that number was much higher earlier this year.

"Earlier this year, they were up 57 percent, so the rate that we're having them had decreased, just like the rate of homicides," says Harrison.

During the summer months, both murder and shootings show a downward trend.

"We put a lot of visibility on the street over the summer with the help of the state police. We picked up a lot of people wanted for warrants. We picked them up earlier this summer," says Harrison.

“Overall, we’re still third behind Chicago and Baltimore per capita. One out of every three shootings is fatal in New Orleans,” says Esmail.

Harrison admits a lot more work is needed.

"We still have a long way to go, but we're hopeful that we can continue to reduce our murder rate," says Harrison.

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