Last Updated on September 22, 2022
With a murder rate of 41 per 100,000, New Orleans now has the highest per-capita homicide rate in the nation. In the first three quarters of 2022, New Orleans recorded 205 murders, 160 of which were due to fatal shooting incidents.
At 41 per 100,000, New Orleans currently has a murder rate that is 4x higher than Chicago, which stands at 11.8 per 100,000 to this point in 2022.
Like most big cities in the U.S., New Orleans has seen its homicide rate spike following COVID lockdowns and anti-police rioting in 2020. An FBI report published last September found that murder spiked by a whopping 30% in 2020. In many cities, including Dallas, Philadelphia and Louisville to name a few, that trend has continued in 2021 and 2022.
As of September 11, 2022, the murder rate in New Orleans has spiked by 141% compared with the same period in 2019, according to the Metropolitan Crime Commission Inc., a nonprofit that works to reduce crime in the city. Shootings are up 100%, carjackings 210% and armed robberies up 25%. The homicide rate is on pace to surpass last year’s rate, which was the worst since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
As the city’s murder rate surges, New Orleans is dealing with a massive shortage of police officers. Ronal Serpas, who served as the city’s police superintendent from 2010 through 2014, estimated that New Orleans has just 50% to 60% of the officers required to adequately keep its residents safe.
“We’re in a crisis of crime and a crisis of confidence in this city,” he said.
Police officers and city officials, including Mayor LaToya Cantrel, a Democrat, say the city has been hampered by a decade-old agreement with the federal government that aimed to crackdown on corruption. The agreement has resulted in officers being disciplined for minor infractions; city officials claim.
The agreement, known as a consent decree, was implemented after then-Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked the Justice Department to investigate the New Orleans police in 2010. It gave a federal judge authority to oversee police reforms to correct issues of “corruption, inequity, abuse of power and other problems” that had plagued the department for years, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The decree was supposed to last for six years, but it was extended because the court has not ruled that the issues have been solved. Mayor Cantrell has called for the decree to end, arguing that it has led to officers being punished repeatedly for minor infractions.
While police departments in major cities across the nation are struggling with staffing shortages following the George Floyd riots in 2020, the issue is exacerbated in New Orleans.
According to a recent report from an analytics firm that was presented to the city council, the average police response time in New Orleans is a little over two-and-a-half hours. The department did note that the response time is much quicker for major emergencies.
“The criminals are more bolder and more brazen,” said New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson. “They do not believe they will face any consequences for their actions.”
New Orleans is currently on pace for over 300 murders in 2022, according to an analysis from NOLA.com.