New Orleans homicides increase this year compared to last despite quarantine

Updated: Jun. 16, 2020 at 5:09 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Although New Orleans was under lockdown for months, statistics show that homicides and gun violence increased during quarantine.

"We've had nine murders in nine days. This is not good," LSU Health Criminologist Peter Scharf said.

After a violent weekend in New Orleans, the NOPD says shootings and homicides increased by 58 percent compared to the same timeframe last year.

"I think that's what you're seeing with the rise in shootings and certainly with the rise in homicides not just here, but all across the country, violent crimes have not fallen off with quarantine," Deputy Superintendent Paul Noel said.

While the rise may seem alarming to some, Noel says the city saw the lowest homicide numbers in the last two years since 1971.

"While we're certainly up in the number of homicides from last year, we're about pace for the same year to date in 2018," Noel said.

Scharf said given the quarantine, the numbers are still disturbing.

"What's shocking to me is three of the months of this year, we were supposedly closed down. It was hard to get out of the street, much less get killed or kill somebody else," Scharf said.

Scharf says while the surge may come from the lockdown ending, that does not explain the continued increase since January. He also worries about how recent protests are effecting manpower.

"These protests, while very very important for the city, they divert person power, police officers to protest control, protest monitoring," Scharf said.

However, the NOPD says there isn't a shortage of officers to respond to violent crimes.

"They do pull police officers away, but we remain laser focused on reducing and solving crime here in New Orleans, and we're not going to let the circumstances that our city and our country is facing as an excuse not to solve violent crime," Noel said.

Scharf says another reason for the spike may be a breakdown of community trust with police.

“You solve crimes when somebody comes forward and talks to the police. If they don’t trust the police, and I understand with Floyd and the incident in Atlanta why that would be, you’re less likely to solve many of these murders,” Scharf said.

“We’ve certainly not seen that yet. I know that the men and women in the New Orleans Police Department have forged a really strong bond with our community,” said Noel, “I think you saw that this weekend with Superintendent Ferguson marching in solidarity with some of the protesters in Algiers.”

Not only are homicides up this year compared to last, calls for service regarding non-fatal shootings also increased by 18 percent.

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