Violent crime in New Orleans doesn’t relent as 2023 opens

Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 6:34 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -- The new year has arrived, but with it came the same heavy dose of violent crime in New Orleans.

Only four hours after the start of 2023, New Orleans police were investigating the first homicide of the year, a fatal shooting in the 1600 block of Clio Street in Central City.

The violence didn’t stop there. Police already have investigated four stabbings, three robberies and three separate shootings in 2023.

One of the shootings happened in the 4000 block of Tulane Avenue. Police said a tow-truck driver was surrounded by several men and one of them threatened to shoot him. Police say the tow-truck driver pulled a gun and shot the suspect threatening him.

New Orleans’ first homicide of year comes just four hours into 2023

“At what point do you say, ‘We’ve got to really think about our strategies, as well as how we are deployed?’” asked LSU Health Criminologist Peter Scharf.

Scharf said he isn’t surprised by the amount of violence already seen in the new year.

“We have to look at the track record in 2022. It was horrendous,” Scharf said.

Scharf said he doesn’t think change will come for some time, and blames the city’s skyrocketing violence on political leadership that he says ignored the problem for too long.

“My initial judgment -- not blaming an individual person -- is that we didn’t do enough to divert this disaster,” Scharf said.

In 2022, the NOPD investigated at least 280 homicides, according to statistics compiled by the Metropolitan Crime Commission. That was the most in the city in the past 26 years.

“What could we have done to avert this disaster? This is a disaster. There’s no way around it,” Scharf said.

In the final months of 2022, the city implemented a crime plan that addressed police deployment, retention and recruitment of officers. Scharf said it’s clear more is needed.

“There’s some crime drivers that we just didn’t pay attention to,” Scharf said.

NOPD interim Supt. Michelle Woodfork said she and her team are working on a new crime plan.

“I have put together some things on my own, and I’m going to meet with my executive team and see what their plans entail, and if they want to add to it,” Woodfork told Fox 8.

“It’s important for me to not see another mother cry over her child. It’s important to me to know that my mom is going to be OK to go to Walgreens and not feel like she is going to be carjacked.”

Scharf said the focus moving forward must be on finding the right strategy to stop the violence and calm the fears of so many, who say enough is enough.

“We’re in a state of panic right now,” he said. “You’ve got to ensure confidence in the administration and the police department that we’re thinking it through, and we can solve this problem.”

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