By WDSU Digital Team | WDSU | July 28, 2021
New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson shared statistics during a news conference Wednesday that addressed the city’s significant increase in violent crime, although he said such activity has ebbed in recent weeks thanks to recent police initiatives.
There have been 14 homicides in New Orleans over the past week, and the city’s police chief said Wednesday arrests have been made in six of those cases.
Without going into detail, Ferguson credited the department’s Operation Golden Eagle for the decrease in violent crime. There have been 122 homicides in New Orleans so far in 2021, but the chief noted the homicide count for June and July is currently less than the same months last year.
The NOPD homicide solve rate is 57%, according to Ferguson. The number includes nine cold cases, which the police chief said is more than double the cold case solve rate from the previous two years. The solve rate doesn’t reflect whether arrests were made in all of those cases and doesn’t apply exclusively to homicides in 2021.
Ferguson also announced the July 22 arrest of Joshua Blanchard for a homicide 11 days earlier in the 1800 block of St. Anthony Street. The man killed in that incident has not yet been identified. At the time of his arrest, Blanchard had warrants for his arrest in connection with nonfatal shootings earlier this month, the police chief said.
There have been 24 nonfatal shootings in the past two weeks, Ferguson said. Eleven of those cases have been cleared, meaning a suspect has been identified and charged, and seven arrests have been made.
Nonfatal shootings total 292 year to date with 106 cleared, a 36% solve rate and 84 arrests, according to numbers Ferguson provided.
“With many of our homicide shootings, what we are noticing are domestic disputes that are resulting in a violent ending,” Ferguson said, adding that police have responded to two homicides and three nonfatal shootings that were “domestic related” in the past few weeks.
“We’re asking our citizens to do their due diligence and self-care, have some awareness with regards to your mental capacity,” he said. “We need to do a better job to address, deescalate situations or conflicts so that they do not result in the violent endings we have been seeing lately.”
The police chief also reported:
- Eight armed robberies and 15 carjackings in the past two weeks. Seven of the robberies and two of the carjackings have been cleared. So far this year, 100 of 206 armed robberies and 39 of 141 carjackings have been cleared.
- In the past weeks, NOPD has confiscated 90 guns in the process of making 23 arrests for gun-related offenses. Confiscations this year 1,134 guns in 415 gun arrests.
- Two individuals filed false police reports for armed carjackings in the past two weeks. The NOPD has handled 13 such incidents this year.
Ferguson acknowledged he had read the recent Metropolitan Crime Commission’s report that highlights the increase in violent crime over the past two years. The report also suggested the department needed to add another 400 officers to effectively combat crime in New Orleans.
The police chief did not discuss any specific strategies in place to attract more police recruits, only indicating that he and Mayor LaToya Cantrell supported efforts to augment the number of officers on the force.
The police profession has struggled nationwide with perception, Ferguson said. Before the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, the NOPD would typically receive about 500 applications a month to its training academy. Ferguson said that number has fallen by 50 since then.
Ferguson said one thing the NOPD has in its favor when it comes to enticing prospective officers is that it has set the pace when it comes to implementing constitutional police practices. Many of those were the result of a federal consent decree that followed an investigation into civil rights abuses and corruption in the department.