January 4, 2008

Four Days into 2008, Two Murders

posted by m.d.

First murdered person this year, shot and then burned. He had “RIP” tattooed on his arm.

The second, shot near his home in Algiers.

The violence continues at the same rate as last year – a murder every other day.

New Orleans Post-Katrina Murder Rate

The higher murder rate post-Katrina is not a blip, nor is it made up of a series of blips. It has been consistent.

Looking at NOPD numbers for 2006 and my count for 2007, we can see this in the quarterly results:
2006 Jan – Jun: 17 murders
2006 Apr – Jun: 38
2006 Jul – Sep: 53
2006 Oct – Dec: 53*

2007 Jan – Mar: 48
2007 Apr – Jun: 50
2007 Jul – Sep: 53
2007 Oct – Dec: 55
The population of New Orleans was still recovering through the first half of 2006, so the number of murders were thankfully lower. In July, the U.S. Census had the city’s population at 223,000.

To calculate the murder rate, you take murders per 365 days. Then, divide the population by 100,000 (murders per 100,000 residents). Now, divide the murders-per-365-days by the population-divided-by-100,000.

There have been 367 murders in 730 days (2 years), which is equal to 183 murders in 365 days.

Using today’s estimated population of 300,000 – which is high for 2006 through the first months of 2007 – I get a murder rate of 61 murders per 100,000 residents in the City of New Orleans in the first two years after Katrina. Using higher population numbers makes the murder count lower. But there is nothing low about a murder rate of 61.

And from July 2006 to the end of 2007, the quarterly (3 months) number of murders stays consistently around the average of 51, even with more people moving into New Orleans. What that suggests to me is that the people moving here are not killing anyone.

I want to say it could mean law enforcement tactics are starting to work because the numbers of murders are not going up with the growing population. But the murder rate is too high to say that anything in the criminal justice system is “working.”

It does support law enforcers’ claim that a small group of the usual suspects are causing all the violent crime problems, as was made in August 2007:
There have been more than ten shootings in the last five days, five of them fatal – and NOPD Sergeant Joe Narcisse said past trends reveal the same suspects.

"We have a small group of individuals that are committing most of the crimes, they are responsible for a large portion of the actual crimes that happen here in our city."
If that is true, then we need to put most of our resources into the area where this small group of individuals operates – and I don’t mean more police.

I’m talking more recovery resources. I’m talking CDBG money. I’m talking new schools, new community centers, new housing, new roads, new businesses.

That's it.


*I count one more than the NOPD because they count the last murder in 2006 as a 2007 murder. And for 2007, the NOPD count is three higher (209) than mine (206). I have not found a media report for the three I don’t count. Possibly, the murder I count in 2006 is one of the three 2007 murders I don't have.

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