New Orleans murder rate down from 2017

The New Orleans Police Department is on the scene of a shooting in New Orleans East.
The New Orleans Police Department is on the scene of a shooting in New Orleans East.
Updated: Nov. 21, 2018 at 10:09 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans could see its lowest murder rate in decades, according to one crime analyst’s opinion. However, another expert says the city still has a long way to go in curbing the violence.

According to a tweet and unofficial numbers from crime analyst Jeff Asher, New Orleans is currently on pace for 148 murders in 2018. When you factor in the decline in population, Asher’s projection would give us the lowest rate in over 30 years.

“That would be the lowest rate since 1986, when the city had about 160,000 more people," Asher said.

But LSU Health criminologist Peter Scharf said in order to get an accurate look at our crime rates, analysts must go a step further than just delving into New Orleans' past.

“You can’t really compare us to us, you have to compare us to comparable cities,” Scharf said.

While the New Orleans Police Department confirms the murder rate is in fact down, Scharf said New Orleans still ranks near the top of the list compared to the rest of the country.

“In 2017, we were 4th in the United States. What is this wonderful cosmopolitan city, lattes all over the city, doing with the 4th highest murder rate? I think it’s wrong to pat ourselves on the back, we still have a horrendous violent crime, gun injury, murder problem,” said Scharf.

FOX 8 requested an interview with NOPD about the murder rate, but did not get the chance to schedule one. Instead, a spokesperson sent the following email:

“The number of homicides in New Orleans for 2018 currently stands at 132, an eight percent reduction from the same point last year.”

According to Scharf, the city’s murder rate has stayed flat over the last four years.

“I think we need to try some of these new initiatives, public health approaches and see if we can get it so that New Orleans is kind of like other cities in the United States, it’s not now,” Scharf said. “So the question is, you have pockets of extreme at risk kids who are armed and they’re in the drug culture, how do you intervene effectively with those kids way prior to anybody shooting anybody.”

NOPD said at this time last year there were 143 murders.

“Of course, everyone hopes the current number does not rise at all," the NOPD spokesperson said. "But with over a month remaining in 2018, we cannot speculate on what the final homicide total will be.”

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