NEW ORLEANS -- There were significantly more killings in New Orleans during the first quarter of 2017 than the year before and fewer of them are being solved.

That was the information that Police Superintendent Michael Harrison delivered to a City Council committee Thursday.

Harrison, who spoke to the council’s Criminal Justice Committee, said there were 51 killings in the first quarter of 2017, compared to 30 in 2016. The clearance rate – the number of killings that have been solved by naming or arresting a suspect -- has dropped from nearly 41 percent to only 31 percent.

The clearance rate has been the subject of much scrutiny this year, and Harrison told the council the rate has been hampered by a shortage of people willing to come forward with information that can lead to arrests.

Harrison also said the numbers of officers on the force has gone up, but only slightly in the past year.

The NOPD hired 123 new recruits in 2016, but they lost 109 officers at the same time, a net increase of only 14 officers.