Harvey — Jefferson Parish has seen a decline in homicides so far this year compared with 2011, but the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is reluctant to tout the figures as a sign that officers have solved the region’s violence problems.
The Sheriff’s Office released crimes statistics Tuesday that show a nearly 40 percent decrease in homicides in unincorporated Jefferson Parish so far in 2012 compared with 2011. By September 2011, there had been 43 homicides reported, but through this September the Sheriff’s Office had only investigated 26 killings, according to figures released by Deputy Chief Steven LaChute.
In comparison, New Orleans has had 154 homicides so far in 2012 compared with 149 through the same point in 2011.
Based on population, that means that so far this year New Orleans has a per capita homicide rate of about 43 per 100,000 residents, while Jefferson Parish has a homicide rate of 6 per 100,000 residents.
The last time the Sheriff’s Office saw such a steep decline was in 2007, when homicides dropped 33 percent following a record-setting 66 homicides in 2006.
While the numbers look good so far, there are still several months left in the year, said Col. John Fortunato, a sheriff’s spokesman.
Fortunato said while the Sheriff’s Office often points to increased visibility and activity to explain decreases in other crimes, when it comes to homicides that doesn’t matter as much.
In 2007, the department attributed the downturn to increased sharing of information between divisions and a different approach to following up on the crimes. However, there have not been comparable changes this year, Fortunato said.
Homicides are committed by individuals who believe they have no other options, and the Sheriff’s Office has little control over whether they increase or decrease, he said.
Detectives investigate the crimes thoroughly, but they can do little to prevent them.
“Homicides are crimes of passion,” Fortunato said. “If I want to kill you, I will kill you.”
Overall crime in unincorporated Jefferson Parish is down by slightly less than 2 percent, with 10,764 crimes reported so far in 2012 compared with 10,948 through the same point in 2011.
Authorities are reporting decreases in robberies, assaults, burglaries and auto thefts and increases in rapes and thefts.
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