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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEWORLEANS-- A bloody Labor Day weekend in New Orleans pushed the city's murder tally to 101 killings so far this year, according to the NOPD. That's compared to 98 murders the same time last year.

Just this past Friday, the city was touting a nearly 10 percent drop in murders during the first six months of 2014.

'We had a very bad weekend this weekend. Five people got killed on the streets of New Orleans,' said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. 'As you know, you saw the crime statistics, crime is up for the first half, that's always concerning, you always want it going down, so we have to regroup.'

Landrieu said you have to put the number of murders into context.

'Remember, we're at a 30-year low now and that is always good. However, I have said even on our best day, we're still worse than other places in the country. Crime should be going down, not going up.'

LSU Criminologist Dr. Peter Scharf said the steady decline in murders in New Orleans appears to be plateauing at best.

'If you can't keep your officers, if you can't encourage business development, if people choose dope dealing over jobs, because they have a criminal record and it's more lucrative, you're going to get this murder rate,' said Scharf.

The murder rate in New Orleans is now on pace to eclipse last year's total of 156 killings. Tuesday, 29 new NOPD recruits and 3 reinstatements gathered at the city's police training academy for day one of recruit class 171.

Interim Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said they will be joining the ranks at a critical time in the city's history.

'We're hiring more police officers,' Harrison said. 'We will, going forward, have the resources to tackle a lot of that. With our NOLA For Life and all of our initiatives, we feel confident that we'll be able to address the murder increases as well.'

'We have a lot of work to do,' said Landrieu. 'We are recruiting every day. We will keep recruiting until we are 1600 officers strong.'

The current number of officer is less than 1,200, the lowest point in 30 years.

Twenty-seven NOPD recruits who started in the academy in May are now set to hit the streets in November.

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