Murder rate skyrockets in N.O. amid pandemic

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In less than nine months, homicides in New Orleans for 2020 have surpassed the total number of murders that happened in all of 2019.

“Last year we had 119 murders for the whole year, by my count we are at 124,” Adjunct Professor and Criminologist at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health, Peter Scharf explained to WWL First News.

The murder rate in New Orleans is on track to set a new record for 2020. Scharf says the current average murder rate in the city equals about 15 murders a month.

“If we went down to 14 a month we are still going to be close to 170 murders,” said Scharf.

He says that non-fatal shootings in the city are up even more with an incrase so far of about 63% this year over last year.

“One question is why,” said Scharf. “People say everything from ‘hey we are out of quarantine to the economy is destabilized, to the dope market where they had a take-out or home service during the quarantine and now the groups are fueding.”

He says the other theory on what caused the spike in murders, is that the NOPD has backed-off on their aggressive policing.

“The NOPD changed some things they backed off the district taskforces, they made some leadership changes, you have to look at everything to really figure it out,” said Scharf.

He says other big cities including Seattle, New York City, Chicago, and Milwaukee are also seeing close to 50% increase in murders, the same as New Orleans