Tulane study puts New Orleans murder rate as highest in nation

March 12, 2007
Reported by Associated Press

A new study by Tulane University demographer Mark Van Landingham puts New Orleans' per capita murder rate at 96 per 100-thousand people last year.  That's the highest in the nation.

There have been other estimates of the per-capita murder rate, based on various population estimates in the city after Hurricane Katrina.  Van Landingham's method takes into account the large change in New Orleans' population over the course of the year. That method includes the far lower population of the city in the early months of the year.

In his study, Van Landingham used a group of the most widely accepted population estimates to approximate a month-by-month breakdown of the number of people in the city.

New Orleans Police Department spokesman Sergeant Joe Narcisse said police officials look at the murder rate but question whether any true rate can be established.

Narcisse says that holding the title of the country's most murderous city damages New Orleans' reputation.

Police Superintendent Warren Riley has previously said migrant workers living and working in the city are not being counted in such reports. He has estimated the number of people in the city as high as 275-thousand.  He has cautioned that the city could get an "awful reputation" based on miscalculations in population.

The Louisiana Public Health Institute estimates that the city boasted a population of about 201-thousand between June and October.  But several demographers interviewed said the number is likely lower.  Conservative estimates put the population under 200-thousand.