Homicides drop in 2017, but experts say that's not the whole story

In early 2017, it seemed like New Orleans was on track to outpace recent highs, but that number might actually be lower than last year.

NEW ORLEANS -- 2017 started violently in New Orleans.  The month of January ended with 22 murders.  It was the second highest number of murders in a month for the last five years, but that pace did not keep up.

Eyewitness News Crime Analyst Jeff Asher keeps track of murders and other crimes in New Orleans.  He says murders increased significantly in the first six months this year, but once summer hit, there was a sharp decrease.

“(Murders) are probably going to fall by somewhere in the 5-10 percent range,” Asher said. "There was a pretty substantial sudden drop in gun violence."  

Until these last few months when the rates picked up. 

Asher thinks New Orleans will end this year with close to 160 murders. If his prediction holds true the city will end up with a lower murder rate than last year. In 2016, 174 murders were committed.
Looking beyond the overall numbers Asher points out something interesting during mid-2016 and 2017.

"Between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017 we almost had two people shot a day, there were 722 people shot over that span,” Asher said.

Those numbers don’t tell the whole story though.

Captain Michael Glasser with the NOPD and President of the Police Association of New Orleans said that looking at the number of people who were murdered is not enough.  

"What you got to look at is how many people were shot last year versus how many people were shot this year because every shooting is an incomplete homicide," Glasser said.

In an effort to curb the homicide rate, NOPD launched a new unit to focus on shootings in March. They've also aggressively recruited more officers.  

Glasser says it takes time for these factors to have an effect in curbing gun violence.  
"Our primary goal has been, remains to adequately staff the police department, to do things that would result in lower shootings," Glasser said.

Asher points out one other factor in the data, crimes tend to happen in cycles.  And that's one cycle the NOPD is still working to break.  

© 2018 WWL-TV


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