Sunday, March 11, 2007

One Day, Three Murders

And three other people shot.

The latest murder occurred in Mid-City, near the intersection of Esplanade Avenue and Columbus Street, shortly after 2 p.m., according to Joe Narcisse, an NOPD spokesman.

***

A short time after that shooting, police were on the scene of another shooting near the intersection of Foucher and S. Saratoga streets, Narcisse said.

Around 11 a.m., police received word of a shooting in the 7800 block of Venice Blvd, Narcisse said. Seventh District Officers found the victim lying in the street with gunshot wounds to his head and arm. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

***

The first shootings of the day took place around 5 a.m. as a 22-year-old woman and her male companion were shot while walking in a Treme neighborhood, Narcisse said. The woman was shot twice in the chest and died later at a hospital.

***

Detectives were called out to a sixth shooting in Hollygrove just before 6 p.m.
There are violent days like Saturday. But then there are days when nothing violent happens. One violent day does not mean the sky is falling.

However, on those days when there is an unacceptable level of violence in a city of 200,000 people, this troubles me:
A spokesman for Mayor Ray Nagin did not immediately comment.
Three murders. Three other people shot in the city. In one day. On a weekend, when residents are out and about. A woman and man are walking in Treme, both are shot, one fatally. A man is shot multiple times in his car in Mid-City. On the street. In the afternoon. A man is killed in New Orleans East marking the third murder in that neighborhood in less than three weeks (first, second).

Where’s Ray? Still in D.C.?

He came out to a murder scene right before Mardi Gras. I wonder what was special about that day. But on a day like yesterday, not even his spokesperson has a comment.

I know it was a Saturday, and we here in the alternative European civilization don’t work hard and all – especially on the weekends. But, the Mayor can’t show up on the news saying something? Anything? At least on the phone? Or an email statement?

He says nothing about a violent day that the NOPD describes thusly:
"The only thing unique about today is the overwhelming violence," said Sgt. Joe Narcisse, a police spokesman.
Overwhelming violence doesn’t deserve immediate mayoral comment?

Sgt. Narcisse also had this to say:
Narcisse said people shouldn't read the latest killings as a sign the initiatives are not working. Much of the crime in the city is fueled by the drug trade and "social issues" the [sic] are out of the police department's hands, he said.
True, a single violent incident can’t determine that "initiatives" aren’t working. Even six violent incidents in one day are still six single incidents.

However, the trends over time are not looking great. 37 murders in 70 days so far in 2007 translate into a murder rate of 96 per 100,000 residents, if you assume the population of New Orleans is 200,000 (my preferred choice), or 87 per 100,000 residents, assuming the population of New Orleans is 220,000. Both rates are really high.

At the end of March, we finish the first quarter of the year. Let’s assume (and hope) that there are no more murders for the rest of the month. That would give us a murder count in the first quarter of 2007 of 37.

Looking at the NOPD’s 2006 statistics and using a population of 200,000 in New Orleans (because that’s the one I like and if there are more than 200,000 now, there was certainly less a year ago, so it’s like an average over the past year), from the end of March 2006 to my optimistic hypothetical end of March 2007, there would be 182 murders. That’s a murder rate of 91 per 100,000 residents over the last 12 months. That’s really high.

Here’s the last four quarters individually, assuming a population of 200,000:
2006 second quarter: 39 murders; murder rate = 78 per 100,000 people
2006 third quarter: 53 murders; 105 per 100,000
2006 fourth quarter: 53 murders; 105 per 100,000
2007 first quarter: 37 murders in 70 days; 96 per 100,000
The NOPD stats don’t give 2006 fourth quarter numbers. But, I know 162 murders occurred in 2006. That number minus the total murders in the first three quarters gives me 53. Also, I used a population of 200,000 when calculating the 2006 second quarter murder rate. I think the population of the city was actually less than that at the time, which would bump up the murder rate. For example, if I figure in 180,000 as the population, it changes the murder rate to 88 per 100,000 residents.

Conversely, there are probably (hopefully?) more than 200,000 people in New Orleans for the first quarter of 2007, which would lower the murder rate. For example, with 220,000 residents, the rate 70 days into the first quarter would be 87 per 100,000 residents, not 96. But that’s still too high.

And that’s what the trends are saying. The murder rate is still too high. I don’t know if the “initiatives” are working or not. But I know a murder rate of 87 to 96 is scary. While I do not feel scared for my life, I know I’m scared by what those numbers say about the future of the city.

Maybe that’s why the Mayor gave no comment. Maybe he’s scared, too.

1 comment:

Leigh C. said...

I remember when they showed Nagin at that crime scene. He looked like he was a suspect. And in a way, he is...