Amid the celebrations ringing in the new year, and the lead up to the Sugar Bowl and BCS championship games, a look back at the city’s year in law enforcement shows that New Orleans once again will rank in either first or second place as the nation’s murder capital in 2007. It will be the second year in a row that the city will carry this distinction. Depending on which estimate of the city’s population is used, New Orleans will be the top contender or Gary, Indiana, will take the prize. New Orleans’ rate per 100,000 is either 67 or 71, depending on whether the population figure is 312,000 or 295,450. The higher figure from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center uses postal delivery data to make its estimate. The lower figure from GCR & Associates uses residential resettlement and voting activity to make its estimate.
Off the record, police officials expressed alarm at the high rate of assaults, including all non-fatal shootings, which is on track to exceed even the two years prior to Hurricane Katrina, when the city’s population was much greater. Long-festering problems of high poverty, poor schools, and broken systems of public housing, criminal prosecution and imprisonment are cited as the root causes.
Ranking behind New Orleans and Gary, Ind., are Detroit, Baltimore, Birmingham, Ala., and Flint, Mich.