NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans is now making national headlines and not in a good way.
The city has overtaken St. Louis as the murder capital of the country.
“The barometer that many jurisdictions use to measure how effective their law enforcement is and how safe their city is, is the homicide rate,” Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche said. “So, what you don’t want to be, you don’t want to be in the top 10.”
There have been 208 homicides here so far this year.
That’s a 44 percent increase over the same time last year.
Actor and community advocate Ameer Baraka grew up in the city’s Calliope public housing development.
“It’s dangerous, man,” Baraka said. “People are robbing people and killing them.”
Baraka thinks education is at the heart of the problem, with too many young people being left behind. And he says, "what the schools don’t teach you, the streets will."
“When you can’t read and you can’t write, boy you feel hopeless, and you’ll take that gun and you’ll kill something just like that," Baraka said. "You know why I know, because I did it. I did it.”
Baraka says many of the murders are retaliation killings.
“You kill my boy and I’ll come back and kill your boy," he said. "You kill somebody from my hood, I’m going to kill somebody from you hood. That’s just how it works.”
According to Goyeneche, being the homicide capital of the country is not only a quality-of-life issue, but it also comes with real economic consequences for the city.
“You’ll see more people that are choosing not to live here,” Goyeneche said. “You see more people that are looking for other employment opportunities. Other cities are recruiting businesses and conventions and tourists and they’re using our crime rate numbers against us to obtain an advantage.”
Police consultants, including the former chief of patrols at the New York City police department, are now helping the NOPD improve its crime-fighting strategies.
Part of that means putting dozens of detectives and administrative staff back on patrol.