I have published several pieces in this space evaluating what is happening and why in terms of New Orleans gun violence. What I have not attempted to assess yet is where within the city gun violence tends to occur, and how the geography of gun violence has changed since 2011.
Shootings can be analyzed geographically by using the list of item numbers for every known shooting incident since 2011. The city’s publicly available Calls for Service database contains X/Y coordinates that can be translated to latitude/longitude coordinates through a program called Corpscon. The Calls for Service geographic data are not perfect, and locational data are not available for every known shooting incident. But the data are adequate for this analysis, as locational data appear to be available for the vast majority of shooting incidents in any given year.
The end result of this process is a list of every shooting incident from January 2011 through July 2015 with coordinates that can be mapped through a program like Google Earth.
The next step is to break down shooting incidents for each year by NOPD district. A map of NOPD districts from the city is available for download here and produced below. The city’s map can be downloaded and applied as a Google Earth layer to make the analysis even easier.
The resulting analysis provides insight into where shootings are occurring and can help identify ongoing trends. It highlights each police district’s share of citywide shooting incidents for all shootings since 2011, reproduced in the table below.
This table highlights the city’s three most dangerous districts in terms of gun violence as the 5th, 6th and 7th. For reference, the 5th District contains St. Roch and the 9th Ward; the 6th contains Central City and the Garden District; and the 7th is New Orleans East.
This analysis can then be used to identify how violence is trending geographically over the last four and a half years. This is accomplished by breaking down the percentage of citywide shootings in each district for every year since 2011. These results can be seen in the chart below.
Looking at the data in this manner identifies a number of trends occurring since 2011:
The most important takeaway is the significant increase in shooting incidents from 2011 to present in the 7th District (New Orleans East). Almost a quarter of all New Orleans shootings have occurred in the 7th in 2015, and the district was the city’s most violent in 2014.
The 1st and 2nd districts have both seen declining shares of citywide shootings since the beginning of 2011, and the 6th District has become less violent each year since 2012.
Although the 5th District has experienced the most total shooting incidents of any district, it has seen a decrease in gun violence since 2011.
While the 8th District (Downtown and French Quarter) regularly accounts for less than 5% of citywide shootings, there have been more shooting incidents there over the last 18 months than over the previous three years combined.
Shootings by District & Population
A separate way of evaluating the geographic makeup of gun violence in New Orleans is to break down shootings in each police district by population size. Population numbers come from the New Orleans Data Center’s
2010 census data. These data are not perfect because they do not include population growth over the last four and a half years, but these counts are the most updated available data.
Population data for each police district can then be compared to the number of shooting incidents in each district to highlight which districts see disproportionate violence relative to their population. The results, charted below, identify the 5th, 6th and 7th Districts as having the heaviest concentrations of gun violence relative to their population sizes. (They also have the most incidents generally.)
The rise in gun violence in the 7th District is a particularly challenging problem. The 7th covers the city’s largest geographic area, stretching over 25 square miles from end to end. A large portion of the 7th District is unpopulated, but it is still the largest geographic district even only counting the settled areas.
If any part of the city is going to be affected by NOPD’s manpower shortages, it is the 7th District.
A recent article
discussed just how the manpower reductions have impacted the 7th. The article noted that on some days, only three or four officers are available to respond to calls for the entire district.
Although gun violence in the 7th District is a challenge, the city has placed an emphasis on combating rising crime. The most public example of this emphasis was Operation Wild Wild East
, a joint operation involving federal, state and local law enforcement agencies targeting drug activity in New Orleans East. The operation led to 111 arrests over a six-month period from July 2014 to January 2015.
Despite this effort, however, gun violence has continued to rise in the 7th District in 2015.
My aim here is to help build a foundation from which further geographic analysis of crime patterns is possible. This foundation can be used to identify gun violence trends from week to week, month to month and year to year, as well as help evaluate programs like Operation Wild Wild East.
Identifying where crimes are occurring and how trends are changing answers some questions about crime and violence in New Orleans but it also raises others:
For instance: Is there a connection between where armed robberies or drug violations occur and gun violence? Is a shooting far from New Orleans’ one trauma hospital more likely to produce a fatality than a shooting close to the hospital? What’s behind the increase in gun violence in the 7th District? Can this method help prove/disprove NOLA for Life’s impact on gun violence reduction in 2013?
Future posts will endeavor to answer these questions and more.