In this past week alone, the New Orleans Police Department has responded to six murders — three from a quintuple shooting in Eastern New Orleans that ended with the killing of the suspect by police — and a spate of incidents that left more than a dozen injured.
"Over the past 48 to 72 hours, there has been a continuation of the violence that's been plaguing this city for a long time," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a press conference, responding to the bloodshed, this morning.
In response to press questions as to whether the city has the police capacity to effectively respond to what Landrieu has called a pervasive "culture of violence", Landrieu, who appeared with NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas, Criminal Justice Commissioner James Carter and a number of other city officials, defended the department, citing quick response times and a sophisticated, data-driven approach to crime.
"In the past few incidents, the New Orleans Police Department responded quickly and appropriately," Landrieu said. Serpas expanded on that point, detailing specific incidents from the past two weeks.
Tuesday January 11's double shooting, in which one man died, at Jackson Avenue and Tchoupitoulas: "Police are on the scene as shots are being fired." (Police gave chase to a suspect in a black Acura but lost sight of the car, according to a press release.)
Saturday, January 8's double homicide in the 2800 block of St. Louis Street: "Within three minutes, police are on the scene." (The suspects turned themselves in the next day.)
Serpas said that a drastically increased police presence in the "downtown core" for the ten days including Sugar Bowl, Saints-Lions playoff game and the BCS Championship did not adversely affect the NOPD's ability to police neighborhoods.
Serpas said the NOPD's deployment plan guarantees that all neighborhood patrols are fully staffed before officers are routed to the Central Business District and the French Quarter.
"We put 700 [police officers] in the downtown core," while hundreds of thousands of visitors were in town, Serpas said. "What do you think we should do?"
NOPD has nearly 1,400 total officers, Serpas said. "The other 700 cops are working throughout the city."
Asked by a reporter whether the uptick in violence over the past two weeks has tainted national perception of the city, Landrieu replied, "Perception is reality, in some instances. No one has ever denied that New Orleans is a violent town."