R. Reese Fuller

Louisiana's mixed crime numbers

by R. Reese Fuller

Nearly two months ago, CQ Press ranked Louisiana as the second most dangerous state in the nation when it came to crime in 2006. Lafayette was ranked as the safest city in the state. Now preliminary crime numbers for 2007, released today by the FBI in Crime in the United States, paint a slightly different picture.

Looking at the numbers, violent crime and property crime have increased slightly in Lafayette (from 1,142 to 1,293 and from 6,393 to 7,118 respectively) from 2006 to 2007. Violent crime includes murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crime includes burglary, larceny/theft and motor vehicle theft. In Baton Rouge and Shreveport, crime rates as a whole in both areas were declining. But in Baton Rouge - a city listed as twice the size of Lafayette - murders rose from 57 to 71. In Lafayette, they rose from 10 to 15. (Murders rose in all four Louisiana cities cited.) Across the board, crime numbers for New Orleans were on the rise. For Lafayette, only forcible rape decreased, from 73 to 68.

Nationally, the FBI reports a 1.4 percent decrease in violent crimes in 2007 when compared to 2006, and a 7 percent decrease in property crimes. The FBI cautions against using data from Crime in the United States for making direct comparisons between cities.

... Comparisons lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction. It is important to remember that crime is a social problem and, therefore, a concern of the entire community. ...

Read Crime in the United States.