New Orleans goes nearly 2 weeks without seeing homicide; experts weigh in

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 10:13 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Crime experts told Fox 8 that violent offenses in New Orleans are trending downward. That includes going almost two weeks without seeing a homicide, but they said there’s much more to these numbers than meets the eye.

The twelve-day stretch of no homicides in New Orleans ended Wednesday night (Sept. 13). The New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission (MCC) said that stretch is the longest NOPD has seen in two years.

“We are moving in the right direction as far as homicides, shootings, carjackings and armed robberies. Those are all down in 2023 in comparison to 2022,” said Michelle Foster, VP of the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission.

Michelle Foster with the Metropolitan Crime Commission said carjackings are down, but it’s important to note they’re seeing more car thefts.

The Police Association of New Orleans (PANO) said the break-in homicides gave the homicide unit time to catch up and the crime lab time to concentrate on other crimes; however, Mike Glasser said it’s a little premature to claim victory.

“If you hire a waiter and a waiter drops 12 plates on Monday and only drops 10 on Tuesday and drops 9 on Wednesday, they’re trending in the right direction but they’re still breaking plates,” Mike Glasser, President of the Police Association of New Orleans. “Less of a failure is now success. You know so we’re still not in the success department but we’re trending in the right direction and that’s a good thing.”

During the 12 days, there were still 9 shootings.

“They could turn into fatal homicides or also what you have is they could lead to retaliatory shootings,” Foster said.

Glasser said police must focus on combating shootings because shootings lead to homicides. They can work to prevent the shooting but can’t control who survives it.

“It’s how fast does EMS get there. How many times were they shot? Where were they shot? How fast can we get them to a trauma center? Where is the trauma center? What other complications do they have? God? There’s lots of things that factor into where people survive a shooting,” said Glasser. “Rather than look at how many people survived, how many people were shot to begin with is what you have to really look at and say what are we doing about that and what is the nature of the shooting and how is that happening? And where is it happening. I think we’re starting to do that.”

Mike Glasser said they do have some federal operations that are proving to be successful.

“Concentrating on gun violence and we’re operating on a number of levels with that,” Glasser said.

It’s not an exact science. Michelle Foster said it’s important that arrests are made and those turn into convictions.

“That’s the way to continue the trend is by having people held accountable,” Foster said.

According to the Metropolitan Crime Commission, when you take a look at major crimes in New Orleans compared to this time last year crime is down across four big categories: homicides are down 19%, shootings are down 16%, carjackings are down 47%, and armed robberies are down 27%.

Though, in September of 2019 New Orleans saw 85 homicides that year. So, while there’s a significant decrease in homicides so far this year compared to 2022, when you look at September four years ago compared to now, it’s still a 96% increase, a 45% increase compared to 2020, and 19% higher than 2021. MCC did say, to put things in perspective, 2019 was historically low.

Shootings are more than double what they were in 2019. Shootings rose again slightly from 2019 to 2020 but surged in 2021 before 2022 when we saw 35 fewer shootings than the year before; this year is a difference of more than 50.

As for carjackings, there were 70 in September of 2019, 107 in 2020, 189 in 2021, 215 in 2022 and that number was almost cut in half this September.

The armed robbery category is the only of the four categories where this September is seeing numbers lower than September of 2019.

Glasser said not celebrating a premature victory can also be applied to the NOPD hiring and attrition numbers.

“Fewer people have left. That’s good. More people have hired on. That’s good, but we’re still not where we need to be. We’re still losing more than we’re gaining. We’re just do so at the lesser rate,” Glasser said.

He said fewer people left in these nine months than they have in the previous nine months but said there was a big bonus that was being paid around March or April.

“For the first four months the attrition slowed dramatically. After they got that bonus, things settled down. Now attrition starts to pick back up again. We’re getting more people, but we still had 65 people leave since the first of the year. That’s the same as a complete district. That’s like having a whole district disappear since January 1. That’s not a success,” Glasser said.

On top of that, Glasser said they hire recruits, not cops. New recruits spend six months in the academy and four months in training before becoming rookie officers; meanwhile, in those 10 months, the police department is losing people.

If Mayor LaToya’s Cantrell’s nomination for the next NOPD Superintendent is selected by council, Glasser said Anne Kirkpatrick will have a lot on her plate.

“Will new management slow the attrition? It sometimes does because people want to see what happens. They want to see what changes are made,” Glasser said.

He said a lot of people are guardedly optimistic.

“I’ve worked with quite a few [superintendents] and some brought changes and not so much good ones, and some brought no changes,” Glasser said.

Glasser was surprised by Cantrell’s pick but said it’s a smart move. He said her resume will be valuable.

“That tells me that she made a more honest evaluation I think and hopefully she made the right one,” Glasser said.

He says how much change happens under Kirkpatrick’s leadership will have to do with how much autonomy she has, adding hopefully she can help curb crime.

Glasser said there are some downfalls to being an outsider.

“The upside of having someone from here is they know the demographic, they know the neighborhoods, they know the culture, they know the crime patterns, they know what has been tried and worked. They know the assets the department has. They generally know everybody and generally know what’s available to them,” Glasser said.

On the other hand, Glasser said being an insider sometimes works as a shackle where they don’t know or they’re unwilling to try something different.

“They’ve only worked within one organization, one way of doing business and they don’t realize there’s another world out there and there are other places that do things that are successful. That can be either used here or modified to work here well,” Glasser said.

He said as long as Kirkpatrick can surrounded herself with people who do have the educational, institutional and historic knowledge that goes along with New Orleans, Glasser believes it should be a good marriage.

When asked about turnover, Glasser said most police superintendents average 3-4 years. He said NOPD’s pension system is based on the average of your hire’s three consecutive years, so if someone is promoted from within and gets a pay raise their goal is to do three years and get a maximum boost on their pension.

Glasser said a new mayor also often leads to a new superintendent. He said superintendents are usually docile and cooperative the first three years until they’ve put in their time.

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