Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- The FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Report for 2010, and it shows violent crime dropped nationwide for a fourth year in a row.
But in New Orleans the murder rate last year was 10 times the national average.
"The reports that have been released are ominous," said New Orleans demographer and Eyewitness News consultant Greg Rigamer of GCR & Associates. "They are very difficult for the community."
According to the annual uniform crime report, the city had 175 murders last year, or 50 victims per 100,000 residents. That's compared to the Louisiana average of 12 per 100,000 and the national average of 5 per 100,000.
Rigamer said the city's crime trend over the past decade is both consistent and persistent.
"This statistic that we see on violent crime is somewhat of a reflection of the poverty in the community, the lack of educational achievement and some of the other social issues that we continually address," said Rigamer.
In addition to the 175 murders, other categories of violent crime are just as alarming in the city.
Last year, there were 144 forcible rapes, 953 robberies and more than 1,300 aggravated assaults.
The nearly 26,000 violent crimes equal 740 victims per 100,000.
"We're seeing an increase in rape reports, but that's because I think we're counting them better," said New Orleans Police Supt. Ronal Serpas. "We're seeing a slight uptick in assaults, but what's really driving our problem this years and what has been driving our problems since January is petty thefts."
Serpas said the bottom line is we have too much crime in our community and the department is now using high-tech tools to focus on the most violent offenders.
"We identify the top 25 offenders in our community," said Serpas. "We've been doing that a out a month, using new software, we identify that top 25 and them we drill down to the top 5 of that 25 and then we spend the next week doing everything we can to ensure if they have a warrant that we serve it."
While the chief said he does not endorse per-capita statistics, he said if you look at all of the categories of violent crime, New Orleans doesn't even make the top five crime cities.
According to his calculations based on the FBI report, those cities include Las Vegas, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Nashville (the city where Serpas served as police chief) and Orlando.