By Natasha Robin | WVUE | September 19, 2022
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – New Orleans has become the homicide capital of the country.
“It’s no wonder that we are the homicide capital of the United States, when you’re seeing a 46 percent surge in homicides,” said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
The MCC reports 208 homicides so far this year. That’s a rate of 52 homicides per 100,000 residents in New Orleans.
“Citizens are driving to suburban parishes to gas up, get their groceries and eat out,” Goyeneche said.
According to Fox News, New Orleans has surpassed St. Louis, which had led the nation with a rate of 45 homicides per 100,000 people. By comparison, there have been 18 homicides in Chicago per 100,000 people and 3.5 per 100,000 in New York City.
Michael Hecht, president and CEO of GNO Inc., called the homicide rate disturbing.
“I don’t think we could ever forget that, on a moral level, it’s unacceptable for us to have any homicide, let alone this level of homicide,” Hecht said.
“Because it’s about being able to attract businesses here, to create jobs, be able to attract people to live here and fill those jobs. It’s about tourists and conventions.”
Hecht said the violence creates an issue of protecting lives and the livelihood of the city’s people.
“It’s terribly alarming,” he said. “And also it’s tragic, when you consider that back in 2019, we were at a 50-year low. We were trending in the right direction, and now it’s regressed in a really dramatic fashion.”
Goyeneche said, “It didn’t need to be this bad, and it’s not because (police) officers don’t care.”
Goyeneche said diminished NOPD manpower has contributed to the increase in violent crime.
“We have an understaffed police department,” he said. “And it’s understaffed only because the politicians failed to give the police department the resources that they need to stabilize the size of the force, (and) to grow the size of the force.”
Hecht said, “We saw this coming two months ago, and that’s why we formed the NOLA Coalition, because we knew we had to get in front of it.”
The NOLA Coalition is a group of organizations formed to provide support to the NOPD and to the city’s youth.
“Safety today and generational change for tomorrow,” Hecht said.
Meanwhile, the city announced a new $80 million plan geared toward the retention and recruitment of NOPD officers.
“And I’m grateful that it’s there right now, but we wouldn’t be in this position if the political leadership had heeded the call in 2020,” Goyeneche said.