The first three months of 2017 are in the books and it appears that overall Uniform Crime Report (UCR) Part I crime was up about 5.5 percent from the first quarter of 2016. As I’ve written several times before, Calls for Service works as a good (though imperfect) predictor of the city’s official UCR counts which won’t be released for several weeks. In order to estimate UCR I take the Calls for Service count for 36 different NOPD signals that correspond with known UCR Part I crimes. There were 4,853 UCR Part I Calls for Service through March 2017 which is the highest first quarter total of the available years dating back to 2010.
Every UCR Part I Calls for Service incident produces, on average, 1.05 UCR Part I crimes in the official crime count (much of this may be due to the fact that UCR counts victims while Calls for Service counts incidents). The first quarter of 2017, therefore, is expected to produce roughly 5,114 UCR crimes. That total, assuming it’s realized, would be the highest post-Katrina first quarter crime count.
The big driver of the first quarter rise is a large jump in theft. Overall, property crime was up about 8 percent from the first three months of 2016 while violent crime was down 4.6 percent thanks to a drop in rape and a remarkable slowdown in robberies in March.
Here are the Calls for Service counts by UCR Part I category for the first quarter of 2017 versus the first quarter of 2016:
Note that these are incidents rather than victims and Calls for Service signals can change, so an incident initially marked as an unclassified death may eventually be ruled a homicide but that would not be reflected in this methodology.
The below graphic shows the top ten types of crime that rose in the first quarter of 2017 (left) with the top ten falling crimes of 2017 (right). Vehicle burglary drove a large part of the rise as did pickpockets over Mardi Gras.
The drop in rape is interesting as 2016 and 2017 will be the first consecutive years in which NOPD’s revamped sex crimes unit has been operating under FBI’s revised rape counting guidelines. The result is that a new baseline of New Orleans sex crimes can finally be established. A drop in rapes this year would suggest fewer crimes occurring rather than fewer crimes being reported or a new counting methodology being used.
The first quarter is usually the quietest in terms of New Orleans crime, so there aren’t a ton of year-end conclusions to be drawn from three months of crime. That said, the current pace of crime (below) suggests we may be in for a rough year without a relatively significant reduction over the next few months.