We’re glad the number of murders in both Baton Rouge and New Orleans have dropped when compared with the same time period last year. Officials in both cities have launched collaborative efforts among law enforcement agencies, social service agencies, churches and civic groups to target troubled neighborhoods where many of the killings have occurred, often as a result of gang violence. The initiatives, which are based on similar efforts in other cities, use a mix of deterrents and incentives in an effort to change the climate of violence that drives the murder rate.
We don’t know how much these collaborations are helping to lower the number of killings in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, but common sense suggests that police have a greater chance of success in fighting crime when they get help from other institutions. We hope this kind of teamwork continues — and grows.
Last year, East Baton Rouge Parish had recorded 70 homicides through the end of August. During the same time period this year, the number of homicides in the parish stood at 43 — a drop of about 39 percent.
In New Orleans, during the first six months of 2013, 76 people were murdered — a 22 percent decrease from the same period in 2012, when 97 people were murdered. If the trend continues, 2013 could be the least-bloody year in decades for the Crescent City.
We’re glad, though, that officials in Baton Rouge and New Orleans aren’t ready to declare victory yet.
“We’ve declared victory in the past. When you do that, the game is over,” said Rafael Goyeneche, director of the Metropolitan Crime Commission. “You have to be constantly on top of your game, constantly engaging the community, constantly honing your strategies.”
That kind of vigilance is warranted. There is still much work to do in reducing the amount of violent crime in Louisiana’s two biggest cities. But we’re happy that the trend seems to be in the right direction.