Crime

New Orleans violent crime has plummeted in 2018. Here’s why, police chief says.

A surveillance camera is seen overlooking the intersection of Bourbon St. and St. Louis St. in the French Quarter section of New Orleans, where eight people were shot in New Orleans, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011.
A surveillance camera is seen overlooking the intersection of Bourbon St. and St. Louis St. in the French Quarter section of New Orleans, where eight people were shot in New Orleans, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011. AP

New Orleans is on pace to record a staggering drop in gun violence in 2018, with homicides set to fall to the lowest level in decades and shootings down 30 percent, offering at least a momentary victory for city officials in their fight against the city’s most unrelenting public-policy crisis.

If current trends hold through Dec. 31, this year will see 144 homicides in New Orleans, the lowest number since 1971, although the per capita homicide rate remains very high.

Armed robberies are down as well, falling 12 percent so far this year.

“We’ve still got a bit to go … (but) we’re optimistic,” Police Department Superintendent Michael Harrison said in an interview. “We’re grateful.”

The sudden drop in violence from last year means that the progress could be more of a statistical anomaly than a sustainable trend. But it nevertheless represents a noteworthy talking point for Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration, and particularly Harrison, who has been trying to bring down violent crime since his appointment as chief in 2014.

With a little more than two weeks left in the year, Harrison outlined steps his agency took that he said are responsible, in part, for the declines.

Among the most important, he said, is the increased use of crime cameras that began under the administration of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, as well as the maturing of a two-year-old tactical team focused on arresting repeat violent offenders.

The Tactical Intelligence Gathering and Enforcement Response — or TIGER — team initially assigned its officers to tackle serial armed robbery and carjacking cases for as long as it took to solve them.

Since its creation, the city recorded year-over-year drops in armed robberies in 2016 and 2017. The 589 armed stick-ups reported in 2018 as of Thursday were a 12 percent drop from a year earlier, bringing within reach a third consecutive dip in the number of such robberies.

Harrison said TIGER has since applied its approach to shootings, with a focus on people who are suspected of repeat offenses.

Read more about the cameras in the full story at TheAdvocate.com

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