Slight decrease in New Orleans' murder rate for 2012

Published: Jan. 1, 2013 at 3:14 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 8, 2013 at 3:14 AM CST
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New Orleans, La. - On the last day of 2012, the murder rate continued to rise.  Three people were killed in separate incidents.

In all, 193 people were murdered this year, according to NOPD records.  That number is slightly down from the 199 murders reported in 2011.

"I believe in the long run that 'NOLA for Life' will make a difference. It's a full-scale approach to attacking the homicide rate in our city," says Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

The chief points out that New Orleans, like other cities around the nation, struggles with young men who know each other and commit the ultimate act of violence.  Still, he says there are some things that are unique to New Orleans when it comes to murders.

"This is our third calendar year where 50 percent of the people we arrest for murder in New Orleans, or about one third of the people who have been murdered in New Orleans, have already been arrested for illegally carrying or using a firearm," says Chief Serpas.

Serpas believes that sends two messages about what's going on.  "One, our officers are arresting a lot of dangerous people with weapons.  And, two, what would our murder rate be if half the time, the people who were arrested hadn't been arrested?" says Chief Serpas.

NOPD operated this year with 112 fewer officers.  Serpas says he's anticipating a slight decrease in other crimes like, rape, armed robbery, burglary and auto theft, but those numbers won't be official until next month.

"It means that the programs are coming together. It means that strategies that the commanders are using are starting to make a difference because we can see crime reduction, even with fewer officers," says Serpas.

Still, he says it will take a city-wide effort to confront the crime problem, and every branch of the criminal justice system will have to do its part.