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How Safe is New Orleans?

As most people know New Orleans has been wracked with violent crime. Since this blog is about what’s New Orleans culture and life I have tended to steer clear of most political commentary and also any commentary that is not uplifting or educational or inspiring.

I have tended to only focus on what’s good about our community and about our city and support that and celebrate that. But as most people know who have any interest in this city there has been a serious crime problem here that has only gotten worse since Katrina.

Just how safe is New Orleans?

March against violent crime, Canal Street, New...

March against violent crime, Canal Street, New Orleans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a while after the storm the streets were free of a lot of the bad element that was responsible for the crime.

People felt safe to walk the streets at night and go into areas they would other wise not go into.

But something has happened in the last couple years that folks here are having a hell of a time explaining.

A lot of folk want to pass it off as black-on-black crime and feel that well since it does not involve them they are safe. Well, that is true up to a point. But the thing is a lot of black folk fear for their lives as well. They live in neighborhoods where most of this crime happens and it affects them more so. And if a portion of the population suffers like this then we all suffer.

One speculation is that during Katrina a lot of people involved in drugs went to Texas where they were able to make contact directly with drug runners and as such were able to bypass the middle man in New Orleans and thus would have access directly to the drugs themselves. Of course, supposedly this caused some turf wars and more and more people struggling for control of the streets and their customers.

Apparently a lot of the shootings have to do with retaliation and most of the victims are known by their assailants. It’s the kind of thing where you say something bad about me or my sister or mother or girlfriend or someone in the family then I have the right to shoot you. It’s sounds crazy but that’s what a lot of it is.

Some of it spills over to innocent people like the little two year old girl slain in the crossfire and the fellow who was gunned down when he tried to be a good Samaritan and stop a carjacking.

The question comes down to how safe are we on the streets in the city of New Orleans. As it turns out pretty much so. The majority of the crimes have to do with criminals shooting criminals and attacking people that they already know.

If you were to just take into account crimes of opportunity where someone is shot from being robbed or burgled the incidence of shootings and murders would be very low. In fact, if you want to make comparisons Tampa, Florida has a higher overall crime rate than New Orleans.

Unfortunately, that is not what we get from the news media who have a penchant for blowing things out of proportion. Remember the old newspaper motto: if it bleeds it leads. It has people think that the entire city of New Orleans is rampant with crime and shootings and muggings. This is just not so. This kind of reporting hurts our image and consequently hurts business and affects people’s livelihoods.

Neither do I believe it’s useful to stick our heads in the sand and hope that the high crime goes away. That won’t work either. A well-informed populace is instrumental in getting the people in charge in gear to reduce crime and take back the streets for all to enjoy.

I believe things are turning around finally. U.S. Attorney Jim Letten has done a lot to bring criminals to justice. And now with the new approach of being able to arrest these drug kingpins on racketeering charges and new procedures in place at the police department the tide is beginning to turn.

Police Chief Ronal Serpas was ecstatic recently that several criminals have been rounded up because of people finally feeling safe enough to step forward and name names.

New Orleans has hit rock bottom as far as violent crime goes but we feel a new day is dawning. We can go nowhere else but up. I still feel safe in this city, always have, and I still take precautions as I probably would in any big city. It’s just the smart thing to do.

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