Tuesday, 09 May 2017 18:59

Landrieu's New Orleans on course to beat Chicago, per capita murders

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crimeWhile the city and the rest of the country focus on the fate of the Confederate monuments in New Orleans, a sad story is being ignored. In the first four months of 2017, the murder rate has increased significantly over the previous year. According to crime researcher Jeff Asher, there were 71 murders in New Orleans through the end of April. If this trend continues, this year will be the most violent year in New Orleans since 2007. 

While the violence in Chicago generates national headlines, the murder rate in New Orleans is much higher per capita. In the years of 2010-2015, New Orleans, not Chicago, was the murder capital of the nation.   

There are many reasons for the problem in New Orleans: broken families, poor schools, drugs, poverty, etc. However, in recent years, a major factor has undoubtedly been the lack of police protection. The ranks of the NOPD have been depleted since the beginning of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s first term in office. The police force has lost approximately 500 officers in the last few years.    

During the early stages of the Landrieu administration, there were no classes of new police recruits. Eventually, the recruitment efforts were restarted, but it will take many years for the NOPD to be back at full strength. In 2016, only five new officers were added to the ranks of the NOPD. At this rate it will take 100 years for the department to have an adequate number of officers. Clearly, the law abiding people of New Orleans cannot wait that long. 

For law enforcement personnel, the problems do not just exist in New Orleans, but across the State of Louisiana. Wallethub just completed a new study on law enforcement, looking at quality of life, salary and career opportunities among other factors. Sadly, the report showed that Louisiana ranked last in the nation for police officers. 

In Louisiana, our streets are violent due to a broken criminal justice system. Police officers arrest criminals and far too soon they have to face them once again back on the streets. This unacceptable situation certainly demoralizes underpaid officers already working under horrible conditions. 

In Louisiana, we know that we do not have enough police officers and do not pay them properly. With the lack of officers and resources, it is not surprising that Wallethub found Louisiana ranked 43rd in the nation in solving homicide cases. In New Orleans, the homicide unit is understaffed and “broken” with over 75% of 2017 homicide cases remaining unsolved. 

Among all of the disturbing information uncovered by Wallethub the most depressing was the fact that, for police officers, Louisiana ranks as the most dangerous state with the highest number of law enforcement deaths. Facing these tough conditions, it is commendable that anyone would serve as a police officer in Louisiana.  

Jeff Crouere

Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]

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