There are now three months left in 2016 which is a good time to take stock of where New Orleans stands in terms of murders. As of September 30 there have been 127 murders in New Orleans in 2016 including 17 in the month of September. That total places the city on pace for 170 in 2016, a 3.9 percent jump from 2015’s 164 murders and a 13.3 percent increase from 2014’s 150 murders.
Mayor Landrieu gave a speech back in April about New Orleans gun violence and noted that the city (at that point) was on pace for a historically good year for murders in 2016. The mayor pointed out that the pace as of April would represent the fewest murders in New Orleans since there were 116 in 1971.
As of April the city was on pace for 120 murders, and New Orleans hasn’t had fewer than 150 murders in a year since 1971. The city has been under 165 murders only 8 times in the last 44 years (1972, 1975, 1985, 1999, 2006, 2013, 2014, and 2015). The below chart shows murder totals in New Orleans since 1930 (1932 and 1933 are missing from the historical record).
So what are the chances that New Orleans achieves fewer than 150 murders for the first time since 1971? It appeared possible in April but as of the end of September it’s pretty unlikely.
New Orleans has averaged 14 murders a month in 2016 overall and 17.6 over the last five months. The city has averaged 13.3 murders per month since 2013 when NOLA for Life took hold. Three average months, therefore, would produce in the range of 40 more murders for the year leading to a slight increase from 2015’s total. Three above average months could lead to 175 or more murders.
To come in under 150 murders, New Orleans would have to have just 23 murders over the last three months of the year. Counting murder by month since the start of 2008 shows that the city has achieved 23 murders over three months just twice in the last nine years. There were 22 murders between October and December 2009 and again between September and November 2015.
Shooting data for 2009 is not available, but the drop in murder in 2015 was largely driven by a historic drop in the percent of shootings in October that ended in a fatality (1 of 24). Such a lucky streak is highly unlikely in 2016.
The murder pace as of today has, on average, been high by 5 murders since the start of 2010 meaning the pace has over exaggerated the final murder tally. That said, murder in 2016 will likely be right around where it was in 2015 if not slightly higher. The odds of a historically good murder year are, unfortunately, pretty slim.