How did New Orleans become the nation's murder capital?

New Orleans is known for jazz, Cajun cooking, voodoo...and now, murder.  This year, the city passed St. Louis as the murder capital of the United States.  It's not something the city wants to be known for since tourism makes up a large part of the economy, but with a 141-percent increase in homicides, it can't be denied.

According to the Metropolitan Crime Commission, New Orleans has 52 homicides per 100,000 residents as of Sept. 11.  This is a 141-percent increase compared to 2019.  Overall, the city has seen 205 homicides.

Shootings in the city have also doubled since 2019, according to Fox News.

By comparison, as of Sept. 17, St. Louis had 45 homicides per 100,000 residents as of Sept. 17, according to data from the St. Louis Police Department.  The numbers for Chicago and New York City are 18 per 100,000 residents and 3.5 per 100,000 residents, respectively.  The overall number of homicides are greater in these cities, but they also have a significantly larger population.

You would think that with crime on the rise, city officials would be looking to hire more police officers and get them out on the street.  However, thanks to a demonization of police by the media and social justice warriors, fewer men and women are willing to put their lives on the line only to be sued by the criminals or prosecuted by the jurisdiction they serve when they are just doing their job.

In September, officials in New Orleans announced an $80-million plan to increase pay for police officers, offer free health care, and provide $30,000 in increased hiring incentives for new hires within the department, according to Fox News.

"Action must be taken NOW if there is ever a chance to save the city and bring the reputation of being a city where tourists can come to party and celebrate and not become victims," Fausto Pichardo, a consultant for the department, wrote.

Desperation has also led the department to add 50 to 75 civilians to reduce the workload on officers and decrease the police response time, according to NOPD superintendent Shaun Ferguson.  He explained that the civilians will respond to calls that do not require police presence, answer the phones, and take some of the workload from administrative police officers.  Some civilians will be trained to take over detective work.

This may sound good on paper, but it places the city in a dangerous situation.  What if one of the civilians is injured on a call that wasn't supposed to require a police presence or one of the civilian detectives messes up an investigation?  Given how police have been treated, it might not even take something major like that to have a civilian prosecuted.

If New Orleans wants to address its crime problem, it first has to be willing to prosecute criminals. Then it has to support its police officers and not look for ways to usurp their authority and endanger their lives.

When those things happen, then you will see qualified officers willing to join the force and make arrests.  As the cases are prosecuted and criminals taken off the streets, crime will begin to drop.  Everything else is just a Band-Aid that will eventually fall off.

Michael A. Letts is the CEO and founder of In-VestUSA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs. 

Image: Public Domain Pictures.

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