New Orleans Still High Ranking Crime City

by Young Che on December 4, 2008

Last week a report released by CQ Press ranking crime rates in American cities placed New Orleans at the top of the list for this less than honorable distinction. As many New Orleanians know this is nothing new for us. Back in 1994 we set the record for murder rate and can lay claim to being the Murder Capital of the World. Even though our population may never amount to what it was before Hurricane Katrina, pound for pound we are still the champ. Do a Google search for New Orleans murder rate and take a look at the statistics for yourself. One link sends you over to Wikipedia and peep their description of New Orleans crime:

New Orleans has a high violent crime rate. Its homicide rate has consistently ranked in the top five of large cities in the country since the 1980s. In 1994, 421 people were killed (85.8 per 100,000 people), a homicide rate which has not been matched by any major city to date.[18] The homicide rate rose and fell year to year throughout the late 1990s, but the overall trend from 1994 to 1999 was a steady reduction in homicides.
From 1999 to 2004, the homicide rate again increased. New Orleans had the highest murder rate of any major American city in 2002 (53.3 per 100,000 people). In 2004, there were 275 murders reported.[19]
After Hurricane Katrina, media attention focused on the reduced violent crime rate following the exodus of many New Orleanians. That trend is beginning to reverse itself as more people return to the city, although calculating the homicide rate remains difficult given that no authoritative source can cite a total population figure.[20]

The statistics are staggering and as we descend further and further into this recession which is drawing parallels to the Great Depression era the crime rate here will only get worse. The problems contributing to these conditions are varied as are the solutions necessary to help turn this disturbing trend around. Police chief Warren Riley has been under fire of late and this only adds fuel to the flames of those calling for his resignation.

He made some very valid points by pointing out that “The problem won’t change until we take care of the poor people in this city, until we take care of the impoverished in this city, until we gave them the same educational opportunities as everyone else, until we give them direction.” I can’t help but reflect on the ‘real’ policy makers of this city (hint: it’s not the elected officials) who thwarted an effort to set up a community outreach program with proven results in other cities plagued by violence.

We can change the course of history for this beautifully violent city but it will take a lot of hard work on all our parts. There have been an increasing number of people who have dedicated their efforts to creating opportunities for the historically underserved of this city. One such organization has served as a support system for this emerging flock of Social Entrepreneurs who are making great strides towards making New Orleans a better place to live. Take a second to scan over SENO’s website and find out which organizations are doing what to better our community. Then Give Them Your Support. Whether your support is financial or your time directly, the people who dedicate their lives to making sure that the least in this city have a fighting chance at making something out of their lives deserve your help and support. We must all learn to work together effectively to reverse the trend. Barrack Obama’s election serves as a sign that anything is possible and it is possible to improve the conditions which foster the criminal element in this city. Most of it is poverty related and one of the most effective ways to eliminate poverty is through generating profits. Community outreach programs can no longer depend on grants alone to help those in need of help but must begin to focus on ways to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit by creatively utilizing the talents of the people served to launch new businesses. It can be done. It will be done. And we are the ones who will make it happen. PEACE!

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