By Fox 8 Staff

August 28, 2023

Longtime criminologist Peter Scharf died Sunday (Aug. 27) at the age of 78, his employer the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans announced Monday.

“Dr. Peter Scharf, an accomplished member of the faculty of LSU Health New Orleans’ Schools of Medicine and Public Health, passed away after a brief illness on Aug. 27,” interim chancellor Dr. Steve Nelson said in a statement. “One of the country’s leading experts in corrections criminal justice research, field assessments, performance metrics, police deadly force training, and the public health aspects of crime, Dr. Scharf dedicated his life to studying and educating everyone from students to policymakers, law enforcement and the public to develop and implement strategies and policies to prevent or reduce crime.”

Ameer Baraka, who struck up a long friendship with Scharf after serving years in prison, eulogized the man he called his “mentor” in a Facebook post.

“This man gave me a wealth of knowledge on crime and life,” Baraka wrote. “When I was wrong, he corrected me in love. He helped me with a movie I produced and encouraged me to fight for kids.

“I was with him in his last days. I loved this man. I’m thankful I laughed with him while he was in the hospital. All he asked me each day was, ‘How are thing going in the streets?’ He wanted to end crime through educating our kids.”

Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a statement expressing condolences to Scharf’s family, friends and colleagues.

“The City of New Orleans lost a devoted public servant whose extensive knowledge helped foster a justice system that is more accountable, coordinated, equitable and effective,” Cantrell said. “As a renowned criminologist, professor and founding director of the University of New Orleans’ Center for Society, Law and Justice, the legacy that Dr. Scharf leaves behind is seen every day, not only in the lives of the students he so positively impacted but also in the overall public safety policies and practices in place today.

“His dedication, professionalism and service to our city will always be remembered. May he rest in God’s perfect peace.”

The Metropolitan Crime Commission said in a statement, “The MCC’s thoughts are with the family of our friend, Dr. Peter Scharf. Dr. Scharf dedicated his life to improving public safety, advocating for victims, and inspiring young minds to do the same. His voice will be missed.”

Scharf, who taught at Texas State University, the University of New Orleans and Tulane University before moving to LSU Health, authored several books, including Readings in Moral Education (1978), Growing Up Moral (1979), Towards a Just Correctional System (1980), Badge and the Bullet (1983), A Guide to Computer-Age Parenting (1984), Understanding the Computer-Age (1988), Assessing Law Enforcement Ethics (1996), and the Justice Information Sharing Performance Measures Guide.

While at Tulane, Scharf was named to the criminal justice transition team for former New Orleans mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu.