Chicago, the third most populated city in the country, suffered more murders in 2016 than the top two, New York City and Los Angeles, combined. Clearly, last year was a very violent one in Chicago as murders rose by 278 and shooting incidents skyrocketed by more than 1,100. However, with an approximate population of 2,720,546, Chicago’s murder rate per capita is much lower than the 2016 murder rate in New Orleans. While 2016 was a very bad year in Chicago, per capita, it was much worse in New Orleans.
According to crime researcher Jeff Asher, New Orleans will likely finish 2016 with the fourth highest murder rate per capita in the nation. The city’s murder rate rose to 176 in 2016, marking the second year in a row with a double digit increase in murders. Even worse, there were 485 shooting incidents in New Orleans in 2016, almost a 25% increase from the year before.
According to the latest estimates, New Orleans has a population of approximately 389,617, which is about one-seventh the size of Chicago. Unfortunately, the murder rate in New Orleans is much higher than one-seventh of Chicago’s murder rate.
Multiplying the New Orleans 2016 murder rate of 176 by seven totals 1232 murders, yet Chicago recorded 762 murders in 2016, only 61% of that figure. This puts in perspective how dangerous it is for the people of New Orleans and the millions of tourists who visit the city.
If this trend continues, the national news media will eventually give more coverage to the New Orleans crime problem. This national attention will negatively impact tourism, the city’s leading industry, which may be the only way to energize the political leadership of New Orleans. Sadly, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has dealt with the crime epidemic by offering only lip service and social programs such as Nola for Life, which features mentoring, conflict resolution and athletic activities such as Midnight Basketball. With crime on the upsurge, the verdict on the Mayor’s initiatives is unmistakable, they do not work.
The apathy is not limited to New Orleans politicians for despite regular increases in violent crime the citizens of the city have not demanded more action. Obviously, too many residents of New Orleans have become complacent as reports of home invasions, restaurant robberies and violent crimes have increased.
There have been no large public demonstrations, like the 2007 anti-crime rally that drew 5,000 people to the Central Business District of New Orleans.
In 2017, the crime problem is even worse, but the people of New Orleans have now accepted this high level of violence as the new normal. They no longer have any expectations of safety, nor do they seem to demand it, and that is what is most heartbreaking.