New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said his department and city officials view homicides as a crisis. Now, why isn't there public outrage?
"I can't answer that, but we've had a culture of violence in the city for a very long time," Harrison told WWL-TV in a recent interview.
(Mobile/tablet users: Click here to view WWL-TV's report.)
The interview came on the heels of New Orleans seeing a spike in murders. Its 103rd murder occurred over the weekend. Not to mention the department has buried a colleague gunned down in the line of duty — the lowest point for any law enforcement organization — while two members of the department have lost immediate family members to a resurgent wave of killings.
Then the NOPD suffered another blow early Sunday when Officer Vernell Brown, a 17-year veteran of the force, was struck by a car and severely injured while investigating a vehicle fire on the Pontchartrain Expressway.
"It’s been a very hard couple of weeks," Harrison told The New Orleans Advocate earlier this week.
After consecutive years in which the Crescent City’s bloodshed appeared to be in a state of modest remission, killings have spiked to a familiar frequency, renewing concerns about public safety and raising questions about the long-term impact of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s much-touted anti-murder initiatives.
The New Orleans Police Department investigated 30 percent more murders in the first half of this year than in the first half of 2014.
The violence has seemed unrelenting at times, unbounded by geographic or socioeconomic lines. The victims have ranged from two small children, ostensibly in the care of their mother, to two police officers, both gunned down in the line of duty.
Jeff Asher, former city crime analyst and now "Behind the Numbers" blogger for The New Orleans Advocate, explains that a statistic called the fatal shooting percentage can help explain the spike in murder.
"The Fatal Shooting Percentage is a number which shows that the percentage of shooting incidents ending in a fatality has remained relatively steady at around 36 percent in New Orleans over the last few years," Asher wrote.
"Although total shooting incidents are lower through June 2015, fatal shooting incidents are up because over 40 percent of shooting incidents in the first half of the year ended in a fatality. Randomness played a positive role in reducing murder in New Orleans in 2014, when only 32 percent of shootings ended in a fatality, but it is playing a negative role in murder in New Orleans so far in 2015."