What Is New Orleans' Crime Rate? The City's Violence Is On The Decline, But Residents Don't See It
On Sunday, a gunfight at Bunny Friend Park in New Orleans, Louisiana, injured at least 16 people. The shooting, which took place in New Orleans' Upper Ninth Ward, happened during a party for the filming of a music video in the area. No fatalities were reported, and a spokesperson for the New Orleans Police Department told Reuters Sunday that it was unclear whether gang activity was involved. But what is New Orleans' overall crime rate, and how do shootings factor in? The city's overall crime rate has decreased in the past 10 years, but many residents feel that the city hasn't seen progress in controlling crime.
NPR, along with the Kaiser Family Foundation, conducted a survey of New Orleans residents that was published this past August, 10 years after Hurricane Katrina struck the city. The poll found that less than half of respondents believe there's been significant progress in controlling crime after Katrina. NPR notes that "for decades, New Orleans has struggled with a high murder rate" and that the city's rate of violent crime increased after Katrina. Twenty-nine percent of the survey's respondents said that they were "very worried" they'd be victims of violent crimes. Still, NPR also notes that the city's murder rate has fallen to half of what it was in 2006. In 2014, New Orleans saw 150 murders, the lowest figure in more than 40 years. The city's murder rate is rising again, though — as of Nov. 14, New Orleans has seen 138 murders in 2015.
While the murder rate may have decreased last year, it's still higher than those of other metropolitan areas, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. City reports focus on the murder rate, rather than specific shooting rates, but this July, Jeff Asher, a crime analyst in New Orleans, analyzed public data to figure out how big of an issue gun violence was in New Orleans, as it relates to the city's murder rates. Reporting for The Advocate, Asher found that 90 percent of New Orleans murders are committed with guns. Shootings and gunfights are all too common, and Sunday's gunfight at Bunny Friend Park is just the latest example.
According to Asher, New Orleans has seen more than 2,400 shootings since 2010, and 36 percent of those shootings caused at least one death. The number of shootings dipped slightly in 2014, and Asher explains that the rise in New Orleans' murder rate this year may be because more of the shootings in 2015 caused fatalities, not because there were more shootings in general. Either way, New Orleans' crime rate is roughly quadruple that of similarly-sized cities in the United States.
Sunday's shooting at Bunny Friend Park is the most recent incident in a long history of violent crime in New Orleans. As NPR's poll indicates, many residents don't feel safe in the town. According to the outlet, several residents said the police should do more to protect them, and roughly a third of the city's police officers have left the department since 2010, so the decreasing amount of resources could be a factor, too. Whatever the cause, Sunday's gunfight is a stark reminder that shootings are still a problem in New Orleans that needs to be addressed.