Murder rate down. So what?: A story by the Times-Picayune--written hours before the end of the year--proclaimed the drop in New Orleans' murder rate in 2008. Don't quite know how they knew there would be no more murders before the year ended, but to his credit, Big Chief Warren Riley didn't crow about it, only said "progress has been made."
Robberies in the 8th District were up again significantly in 2008. I will always remember a former 8th District commander warning "every armed robbery is just the squeeze of the trigger away from a homicide." And, in case you failed to note, the so-called "simple robberies" -- robberies without weapons, such as pursesnatchings -- tend to be more violent than armed robberies.
Using the homicide rate to indicate the crime rate is misleading. They say it's done because it's hard to classify a murder as anything but. But consider this: one shooting toward the end of the year killed a 20-year-old-woman and her 19-week-old fetus; her death was counted as a homicide, the feticide was not.
- Armed men invaded a house in the Marigny Triangle and held up the workers there; that was an "aggravated burglary" rather than an armed robbery because it happened inside.
- A gunman pumped 7 or 8 shots into a guy on a French Quarter street corner in front of witnesses and that was classified (at least initially) as "aggravated battery" rather than attempted murder.
- Crimes are charged under the municipal code rather than as state offenses. When we reported that masked including them in the statistics sent to the FBI, a know-it-all attorney chastised us, saying that wasn't true. But the particular incident we were talking about -- the savage beating of a man in November on St. Philip Street -- was never logged on the NOPD's crime map. 8th District cops charged the 6 black punks involved with "simple battery" under the municipal code. (Those 6 bad boys got off with "community service".)
You see what I mean. We have no real way of knowing how bad crime is in the Quarter -- or isn't. Too many of us still fear leaving our homes and going on foot elsewhere in the neighborhood. Tourists are always cautioned to take a cab. There are those arming themselves for their own safety.
Nothing will change until we get honest information from a police chief who isn't ashamed of his failure to make the city safe. And until we get a police chief who can develop a plan for dealing with New Orleans' reputation as the most dangerous city in America.
Where is the outrage? Most seem to be content with waiting out the demise of Mayor Nagin with the 2010 election and his successor naming, hopefully, a new police chief who is man enough to do the job. Or until they or a loved one becomes the victim of a violent crime.
And now for the news: Just as a week ago we were victimized by carjackers, this week the "simple" robbers took over.
- Christmas, 2:15 a.m.: Put this in the "a fool and his money are soon parted" file. A white guy leaving Harrah's Casino and walking in the 300 block of Gravier Street was stopped by 2 chicks in a car and asked how much money he had won. He showed them the money and one of them grabbed it from his hand as they drove off.
- Friday, 12.26.08, 2:40 a.m.: A black man was sitting on the steps at St. Ann and Dauphine streets when he was approached by several black dudes, one of whom grabbed his coin purse and fled on foot.
- Friday, 12.26.08, 8:27 p.m.: A white man walking in the 800 block of St. Louis Street (between Bourbon and Dauphine streets) was accosted by a black couple. The man struck him and the woman took his wallet.
- Saturday, 12.27.08, 11:50 p.m.: Now this one's a little confusing. The 8th District didn't put out a report on it until we asked about it after 2 NOcrimeline readers separately sent us emails reporting it. Both said they were at a party on Ursulines Avenue at Burgundy Street when they and other partygoers heard a woman screaming "Help! Help! Call the police!" When they went outside to investigate after calling the police, they found a pink purse with the woman's wallet inside but the money gone.
- Sunday, 12.28.08, 4:30 a.m.: A white man was sitting in the 500 block of Iberville Street (between Decatur and Chartres streets) when a black dude asked him for a cigarette and then struck him, taking money from the victim's pocket. The robber fled up Dorsiere Street (in case you don't know where that is, it's the one-block street running close and parallel to Decatur, between Iberville and Canal streets).