Auditor asked to review crime statistics in New Orleans

A state Senate committee advanced Tuesday morning a resolution asking the Louisiana Legislative Auditor to examine crime statistics in New Orleans.

State Sen. Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans, said several criminologists had questioned the veracity of the crime data reported by city police that shows lower than expected violent crime rates.

“We got a crime problem in New Orleans, that nobody can deny,” Peterson told the state Senate Judiciary B committee. The people of New Orleans needed good numbers to understand if any progress was being made on violent crime in the city, she said.

Peterson asked that the Legislative Auditor make its report by Aug. 1.

The panel approved Senate Resolution 121 without objection. SR121 next goes to the full Senate for consideration

State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans filed SR121 earlier this month after media reports quoted criminologists as saying the crime data that the New Orleans Police Department reported to FBI each year appeared suspiciously low, particularly for aggravated assaults and violent-crime rates overall. New Orleans in recent years had murder rates among the highest in the nation.

Morrell, who was not in the hearing when the committee voted, later arrived and said he was pleased with the vote. The Inspector General in New Orleans had told Morrell that his office already was looking into the numbers. But Morrell said the return time on Inspector General reports is about two years.

“The citizens of New Orleans deserve an answer earlier than that,” Morrell said.