NEW ORLEANS - Police statistics show crime in every major category was up last year. Superintendent Ronal Serpas said he's taking a different approach to crime in 2012, while another man is looking for help from a higher power.
On a Central City block that's seen multiple drug arrests, Pastor John Rafael is taking his church to the streets.
"This community is right in the shadows of the church," said Rafael, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. "I feel a tremendous responsibility to try to reach some of our young men and young ladies before they're either victims of violence or in jail."
Rafael set up an amplifier, hooked to a car generator, so he could preach from a microphone in the 1800 block of S. Liberty Street, bible in hand. Rafael believes hitting the street is what it'll take to solve the city's crime problem.
"I truly believe there are folk alive because we were in some places that we were," said Rafael. "People want help. The worst guy knows he's on a dead end street. He just don't know how to make it out, and he want somebody to care about him.
"It's frustrating sometimes, but all things work together for good," Rafael added. "If it saves somebody's life, if it keeps one of these kids or one of these ladies or one of us from being caught in the crossfire, then it might be worth it."
Keira Holmes, 1, was caught in the crossfire in December. A memorial still stands at Central City's BW Cooper housing complex. She's one of 199 murder victims in New Orleans last year.
It's a nearly 14 percent increase over the year before. Police statistics show rape and armed robberies last year also rose significantly.
"It should be a wake up call for us as a community, as a city," said Rafael.
Neighbors said one of the biggest issues on S. Liberty Street is drugs. Police said that often fuels other kinds of crimes
"The business we're in is trends, because you're going to have spikes and things happen sometimes, but the question is how are you responding to the spikes," said Serpas.
Serpas said he's not surprised crime was up in 2011 because that's when the police department was rebuilding some of its most vital crime fighting tools, like the crime lab.
But that's all in place now.
"I feel very comfortable and confident. We're just now executing our plan," said Serpas.
But for Rafael it's more than a police issue. It's spiritual.
"[The crime problem] is not just that individual's incompetence, but its all of our negligence, some of the things that we as a community have all failed to do," said Rafael. "Us doing this, we might make an impact right here, but if that murder or anything else had happened anywhere in New Orleans, there prob was a church within two blocks."
Serpas said murders are actually down more than 30 percent so far in 2012 over this time last year, despite an alarming spike in January. He believes the department's new crime fighting strategy is working.