LSU criminologist takes closer look at 2018 reduced murder count

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Updated: Jan. 1, 2019 at 2:10 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - An LSU criminologist says crime cameras and stability in police hierarchy deserve credit for a historic low when it came to murders in 2018.

However he says the city still has a long way to go.

The year 2018 was a year that started out on the wrong foot when it came to murders.

“Much of the carnage this year was in the first two months, and it’s gone down consistently,” said LSU Health criminologist, Peter Scharf, PhD.

For example, Mardi Gras day in February, four people were killed in three separate shootings, Uptown, in the CBD and in Treme, and some were predicting a violent year.

That didn’t happen, and the city’s chronic murder problem settled down.

New Orleans finished out 2018 with 145 murders, a 47 year low, with the murder of Marla Belin, one of the last, and the arrest of Tyrone Fountain last night.

Dr. Scharf says the increased use of crime cameras and technology deserves much of the credit for the overall drop in murders.

"My suspicion is the short term is the cameras, and pro active patrol, the public health things will take a longer time to develop.' said Scharf.

Scharf also credits stability in NOPD leadership, and superintendent Michael Harrison.

“Absolutely, Michael like all of us had a mixed reputation, he’s built a good team, and has a a sound strategy,” said Scharf.

Scharf says murders are down nationally, and he cautions, though the trends are good in New Orleans, it is still one of the most violent city’s in the country.

“When you look at murder in 2018, New York is 3.5 per 100,000, we’re at 36 or 37, so we’re 10 times more dangerous for violent crime than New York,” said Scharf.

Dr. Scharf says the city has all but abandoned it’s old goal of 1600 police officers.

He says crime cameras, and more ‘intelligent’ policing are helping to achieve crime reductions at lower troop strength.

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