Seventy-five people were killed or wounded by gunfire in New Orleans in the first month of the year – more than twice the total in January 2016, according to a Times-Picayune tally of police reports. The staggering total this month, more than two a day, comes on the heels of a violent 2016 that saw increases in murders and nonfatal shootings.
While too early to draw conclusions on the rest of the year, criminologists say New Orleans’ rising gun violence is evidence of a troubling trend playing out in cities across the country. Baltimore, for example, had 25 killings in the first 26 days of the year, according to The Baltimore Sun.
“The national trend doesn’t look good,” said Jay Corzine, a sociology professor at the University of Central Florida. “It’s pointing to, in large urban areas, more violence and more lethal violence. Right now, nobody has a good handle on it.”
NOPD Deputy Chief Paul Noel said any level of violence is concerning. But, he added, the department’s continued partnership with state and federal law enforcement agencies and the institution of a city-wide public safety plan announced by Mayor Mitch Landrieu earlier this month should bring down violence in New Orleans.
Two pieces of the Landrieu administration’s plan, crime cameras in hotspots and license plate readers, are “great intelligence tools,” Noel said.
In addition, 55 people were wounded by gunfire this January – more than double the total for non-fatal shooting victims in January 2016. Sixteen of this month’s shootings included multiple victims. Eight shooting victims were juveniles, the youngest a 5-month-old girl wounded Jan. 14 in Algiers.
Criminologists say the increase in violence across several cities can be attributed to usual factors: disputes over drug markets, access to guns, gang warfare, low staffing at police departments and the “Ferguson effect,” in which police officers are more reluctant to make proactive street stops in the wake of a fatal officer-involved shooting in Ferguson, Mo., and subsequent protests.