Report: New Orleans Is Now America's Murder Capital

'We’re in a crisis of crime and a crisis of confidence in this city'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2022 1:09 PM CDT
New Orleans Now Has America's Highest Murder Rate
A New Orleans police vehicle.   (Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP)

Violent crime in Chicago makes a lot of headlines, but the murder rate in New Orleans was higher even before a massive surge in violent crime over the last two years. The city now has the highest homicide rate of any major American city, with around 41 homicides per 100,000 residents, the Wall Street Journal reports. That's around the same level as the world's most violent countries. According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, an organization of police executives, the homicide rate so far this year is 11.5 per 100,000 in Chicago, 4.8 in Los Angeles, and 2.4 in New York City.

According to the Metropolitan Crime Commission nonprofit, homicides in New Orleans are up 141% from 2019, with shootings up 100% and carjackings up 210%. Officials say the city's police department is overstretched and understaffed, with officers leaving the force faster than they can be replaced. Ronal Serpas, the city’s police superintendent from 2010 to 2014, tells the Journal that the city only has 50% to 60% of the number of officers it needs to protect residents. "We’re in a crisis of crime and a crisis of confidence in this city," he says. An analytics firm hired by the city recently found that the average 911 response time in New Orleans is 2.5 hours.

In a draft set of recommendations to reduce crime, police consultant Fausto Pichardo recommended that 212 officers, around a fifth of the force, be redeployed from administrative and other duties to patrol duty, Fox 8 reports. Action needs to be taken immediately to "save the city" and restore "the reputation of being a city where tourists can come to party and celebrate and not become victims," wrote Pichardo, former head of the New York Police Department's patrol division. (More New Orleans stories.)

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