Murders Decline in New Orleans, but Shootings Remain Virtually the Same

In 2013, New Orleans recorded less than 160 murders. Mayor Mitch Landrieu followed through on his promise to reduce killings by locking up dangerous gangsters and getting teenage boys involved in extracurricular activities instead of roaming the streets. As a result, murders in New Orleans dropped 20% from the previous year; the lowest rate in over 40 years.

Some don’t see the number as a victory. A woman running one of several anti-violence campaigns in the city relayed that the statistic included the murders of 14 children and babies! She could not recall a year where more children had perished at the hands of another.

Officials don’t report an exact number of shootings for the entire year of 2013, but if the nearly 400 shootings at the beginning of the year are extrapolated to reflect the whole year, the number is about 750! This is less than 2% drop in firearm assaults from the previous year. Even though less people actually died from being shot, almost the same number of people were shot. So should the low murder rate be attributed to luck or proactive community measures?

Many scholars say that the real story will be revealed when the 2014 crime stats come out because there it will show whether the reduced crime rate was a fluke or the beginning of a downward trend.

In 1999, New Orleans boasted a similarly low murder statistic only to have the rates rebound the next year and continued to climb until Katrina hit in 2005. There are dozens reasons why the murder rate may continue to drop; from more teenagers staying in school to a nearly 50% reduction of the population of young men. Only time will tell if New Orleans is truly seeing a shift in crime or if 2013 just saw an epidemic of poor marksmanship.