Shootings and murders are up, armed robberies are grabbing headlines and the New Orleans Police Department remains badly understaffed.
The focus in New Orleans — and in the race to determine the city’s next mayor — is once again on crime, which has risen to the top of the list of issues for those vying to succeed Mayor Mitch Landrieu in this fall's elections.
When it comes to the most serious crimes — shootings and murders — things are indeed bad in the city, independent crime analyst Jeff Asher said. The murder rate has slowed in recent weeks but remains high, while the number of people who have been victims of shootings is up, Asher said. Even July, one of the city’s best months this year, saw 35 shootings, a number that would have put it among the worst months of 2016.
“You could make an argument that gun violence is as bad over the last 12 months as it’s been since Katrina,” Asher said.
Beyond shootings, the city's crime rate has remained relatively stable after a rise to its current level in 2014, he said.
As much as the specter of crime hangs over the city and the election, there may be limits to how much a mayor and a police department can do.
“That doesn’t mean you stop trying to innovate and improve, but it's not going to dramatically improve overnight. There’s too much history that says it won’t,” Asher said.
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