By Paul Murphy/Eyewitness News | WWL-TV | November 9, 2020
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — New Orleans is now on track to reverse a four-year trend where the number of murders fell year over year.
“We’re experiencing a violent crime surge in this city that we haven’t seen in many years, right now,” Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche said.
The MCC’s new look at the city’s crime statistics shows homicides have increased by 87 percent compared to 2019.
The study also shows murder arrests are down by 16 percent.
“There were 126 homicides in the city in all of last year, as of Sunday, there are 174 homicides in the city so far this year,” Goyeneche said.
According to Goyeneche, much of the violence is fueled by competing drug gangs.
“Every unsolved shooting, every unsolved homicide begets and fuels retaliatory justice and that’s what’s spiking the crime rate,” Goyeneche said.
LSU Criminologist Dr. Peter Scharf said the city does not have an adequate strategy to deal with shifts in the illegal drug market.
“We’ve just become very tolerant of the drug trade,” Scharf said. “We’re tolerant of the drug trade and when the drug trade comes into competition, people die.”
The MCC points out that the rise in crime and decrease in arrests come at a time when the city is forcing all city employees including police officers to take one furlough day per two week pay period.
Fraternal Order of Police Attorney Donovan Livaccari says furloughing cops is having a negative effect on crime fighting.
“I think it’s inevitable that the solve rate is going to go down and as the solve rate goes down, the murder rate may very well continue to rise,” Livaccari said.
“I think that the furloughs have a deleterious effect on solving crimes moving forward, especially if we’re talking about continuing these furloughs into the next calendar year.” Livaccari added.
According to the MCC study, there are also marked increases in other categories of violent crime in the city including shootings and aggravated batteries.
The independent crime watchdog group is now urging the mayor to end the furloughing of police officers.
Administration officials have said the furloughs are necessary because city revenues have plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic.