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N.O. murder rate dips in summer

2nd October 2017   ·   0 Comments

This year may have gotten off to a violent start, with gun violence outpacing the first few months of 2016, but NOPD stats show that the city’s murder rate has slowed down considerably over the usually violent summer months, reported recently.

With 22 homicides in January, the early numbers were foreboding for the city with a murder committed every other day over the first six months of the year. However, the warmer temperatures of the summer did not ramp up the violence as some crime experts generally expect them to.

Crime-scene-100217Eight murders were reported in July, followed by nine in August. The summer brought unprecedented lulls in homicides with July experiencing a seven-day stretch without a murder and a 10-day period between late August and Sept. 6 without a murder.

NOPD Supt. Michael Harrison, who said recently that he was encouraged by the slowing down of the city’s murder rate, attributed the drop in homicides in part to a proactive policing strategy in neighborhoods with high levels of drug activity and high-crime areas.

Before the slowdown of the city’s murder rate that began in July, New Orleans was on pace to surpass last year’s murder total. Now, the city is on pace to end the year with 163 homicides, 12 fewer than 2016’s 175 murders.

By Sept. 19, 117 murders had been reported this year, compared to 122 by the same date last year.

“We’re hopeful that we will continue the decrease,” Harrison told

“No one can ever predict,” he cautiously added.

Criminologist Dr. Peter Scharf told that it’s too early to tell whether the lower murder total is “a short-term anomaly or a longer trend,” but added that New Orleans is “still a very dangerous city.”

Earlier this year, in the midst of a sharp rise in gun violence and armed robberies, the City of New Orleans released a $40 million crime initiative that brought added lighting and more surveillance cameras to the French Quarter, additional camera to high-crime areas and additional funding for overtime pay for NOPD officers.

La. attorney general Jeff Landry also announced that he would utilize other law enforcement agencies from across the state to get a stranglehold on the rise in violent crime. The Landrieu administration and NOPD officials voiced concerns about how the Landry plan would impact the constitutional rights of New Orleans residents. reported that the NOPD is still trying to determine the motive in about 40 percent of its 2017 murder cases but the department said that nine percent of the murders committed before Sept. 3 were motivated by retaliation and 13 percent were motivated by narcotics — two areas that may be linked to gang activity.

The NOPD also said that about 40 of the homicides committed before Sept. 3, representing about 27 percent of the 2017 murder total, were the result of an argument.

In other crime-related news, a new study ranks Louisiana third among all states in the rate that women are murdered by men.

The new study conducted by the Violence Police Center is titled “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2015 Homicide Data.” The report says Louisiana is ranked third in the nation for women murdered by men, the seventh year in a row the state has been ranked in the Top 10.

Gail Gowland, executive director of the St. Bernard Battered Women’s Program, told WWL News that the state recently passed laws dealing with domestic violence, but she says Wednesday’s murder of Kimberly Owens in St. Bernard Parish by her ex-husband is evidence that women need more protection.

“We’ve seen like four generations come here. So that shows that it is a cycle of abuse that goes on if that’s what they’re seeing that’s what they learn to know,” Gowland said.

Mark Owens, a former St. Bernard Parish correctional officer, surrendered to St. Bernard deputies Wednesday morning after he allegedly used an ax to kill Owens, his ex-wife. It happened in a front yard where she was staying with her mother.

St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann said at a news conference Wednesday that the victim’s mother heard her screaming and came outside to beg her ex-husband to stop attacking her. “[A]t some point he may have gone after her,” Pohlmann said.

“Early indications tell us that he may have been waiting for her to go to work,” Sheriff James Pohlman said.

Owens, 56, was arrested and booked with second-degree murder and is being held in the St. Bernard Parish jail without bond, a parish prosecutor said.

According to the sheriff’s office, Kim Owens filed a restraining order against her ex-husband in 2014 after he allegedly threatened former parish president David Peralta. Mark Owens believed the parish president was romantically involved with his ex-wife.

Then in 2015, Mark Owens held Kimberly Owens against her will with a weapon before surrendering to police.

“It’s happening all too often,” Gowland said.

For additional information on the St. Bernard Battered Womens Program, call (504) 277-3177.

This article originally published in the October 2, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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