Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Murder City

As of yesterday, the unofficial tally of 2009 murders in New Orleans stood at 171, according to the Times-Picayune. Meanwhile, New York City had 461 murders as of Monday, according to the New York Times.

It bears mentioning that New Orleans is a city of no more than 350,000 people, by even the most wildly optimistic measures, while New York City's population is 8.3 million people. So while New York City's population is almost 24 times as big as New Orleans, its total number of murders is only two and a half times greater.

To put this in per capita terms, New York City has 5.5 murders per 100,000 residents and New Orleans has 48.8 murders per 100,000 residents. So yes, fellow New Orleanians, your chances of being murdered are roughly nine times greater than your friends in the Big Apple.

Having grown up in New York in the bad old days of crime and violence, those days when the streets were so rough that only Rudy Giuliani's campaign of civil liberties violations could make the streets safe for women and children, I think it is significant to point out that, even in those awful times of low rents and vital, diverse culture, New York's per capita murder rate was still only 26 murders per 100,000 residents, based on the high point of 2245 murders in 1990.

I hope that 2010 brings better news on the crime and violence front here in New Orleans but I am not optimistic.

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