NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Violent crime across the nation increased for a second consecutive year. The FBI's annual report on national crime statistics show more than 17-thousand people were murdered in the U.S. last year. That's an 8.6 percent increase from 2015.
"Some of the things that researchers have pinpointed to are poverty, lack of law enforcement and the increased amount of gun availability," says Dillard University Criminologist Ashraf Esmail, PH.D.
Of the violent crimes reported in all of last year, aggravated assault was up 64 percent. Esmail says people across the country are certainly more stressed and living with more anxiety.
"When you look at meeting incomes and things like that, the average citizen is struggling and we don't want to talk about it, but people are less patient. You see people more angry," says Esmail.
FOX 8 looked specifically at the New Orleans data from the national UCR numbers.
The data shows New Orleans, in some ways, followed the national trend.
Aggravated assault was up in 2016, compared to the year before.
Murders also increased from 150 murders in 2014, to 164 in 2015 and 174 murders last year. The FBI UCR numbers do not include data from this year, and the NOPD points out murders so far in 2017 are down six percent.
"When we're looking at trends, whether we're down six percent or not, we're looking at large numbers in general. So, it's a positive that it's gone down slightly but you can't ignore what's been going on for the last two or three years," says Esmail.
Chief Michael Harrison credits the decrease to the NOPD's holistic approach to fighting crime.
"It's the entire group reduction strategy, the street gang unit, multi-agency gang unit and the entire NOLA for Life program," says Chief Harrison.
Harrison admits more work is needed, and Dr. Esmail says while the numbers are down, it's too early to call it a trend.
"We have to wait till next year or maybe even next summer to see where we are," says Esmail.