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Early spike in murders raises concerns in New Orleans

9th April 2018   ·   0 Comments

Over the first three months of 2018 there have beeb more than 50 homicides reported thus far in New Orleans, raising cause for concern among law enforcement officials and crime experts, FOX 8 News reported recently.

One local criminologist said recently that if the city continues on that pace, there could be a record number of homicides by the end of the year.

NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison went before Louisiana lawmakers Tuesday to speak in support of a bill that, if passed, would make it illegal for anyone under 21 to buy an assault weapon in the state. While he argued that law-abiding citizens don’t use assault weapons to protect their homes, he also spoke about the current murder count.

“In the 51 murders that we’ve had this year, the 157 we had last year, the 174 the year before that and the 164 we had the year before that, and my first year as chief, on average, with about 350 non-fatal shootings a year, there has not been one instance in all of those where an assault weapon was used by a citizen to defend their home or themselves,” Harrison told state lawmakers.

Dillard criminologist Ashraf Esmail says raising the age to buy an assault weapon couldn’t hurt.

“This can only be beneficial, you know, raising the age to 21. Generally when we look at the shootings, especially in this city, you’re looking at 18- to 24-year-olds that are engaging in these mass shootings,” Esmail said.

He also said that recent crime numbers in the city are scary.

“When we look at our numbers over the last couple of years, you know, we say 174, 160, 157, it’s not that much of a difference. We’re still, if you take away even 40 murders, we’re still in the top four in terms of per capita in the nation given our population, so these numbers are still kind of frightening in regards to murder,” Esmail said.

Esmail said that if New Orleans stays on this pace, the city could be looking at a record murder count by the end of the year.

“Certainly, if we stay at these numbers, I mean you look at 51 murders now, you’re on pace for about 240 murders at the end of the year, if it stays on this pace,” Esmail said.

“While homicides are slightly up, two percent year over year, shootings and armed robberies are significantly down — 43 percent and 27 percent respectively,” an NOPD spokesman told FOX 8 News in a statement.

“As we saw with last year’s dramatic drop in homicides starting midsummer, violent crime doesn’t follow a linear curve,” the statement continued. “After a spike early on, we ended the year down 10 percent for homicides, thanks to the work of our officers.”

This article originally published in the April 9, 2018 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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