Lessons from the Data: Current Public Safety Trends and Factors that Influence Them

April 8, 2022

Today, the Bureau of Governmental Research kicked off its special Breakfast Briefing Series on Public Safety. Session 1 of the series, “Lessons from the Data: Current Public Safety Trends and Factors that Influence Them,” featured Jeff Asher, co-founder of AH Datalytics, and Lamar Gardere, executive director of The Data Center. Mr. Asher presented his analysis of crime and incarceration trends in New Orleans. Mr. Gardere then examined individual and neighborhood poverty as root causes of crime. BGR presented this event free to citizens on Zoom Webinar, thanks to sponsorship by First Horizon Bank.

Click below to watch the full event.

Jeff Asher, a nationally recognized crime data analyst and co-founder of AH Datalytics, began the event by discussing current trends in New Orleans crime. Mr. Asher shared that New Orleans’ increase in violent crime, particularly gun violence, mirrors a national trend occurring in other cities during the past two years. However, the City’s overall crime rate is down largely due to pandemic-related restrictions that reduced the public’s mobility. Mr. Asher also discussed trends in juvenile arrests, as well as the significant decline in the City’s incarceration rate over the last 20 years. Click here to view the dashboards he discussed.

Following this presentation, Lamar Gardere, executive director of The Data Center, explained how New Orleans’ poverty and income inequality are persistent problems underlying the city’s public safety problems. The data shows that 31% of the city’s Black residents live in poverty and New Orleans ranks fourth in income inequality gaps among large U.S. cities. In addition, Mr. Gardere shared comparative data that shows employment rates have risen for men and women in most racial and ethnic demographics in New Orleans during the past four decades but have fallen for Black men, from 63% to 52%. Click here to download his presentation slides.

Following their individual presentations, Mr. Asher and Mr. Gardere answered audience questions moderated by BGR’s President and CEO Rebecca Mowbray. Among other things, the speakers discussed the following:

  • New Orleans has made great strides in recent years in how it collects and shares data. It has also been a leader in data transparency. However, there is still room for improvement. For example, Mr. Asher noted that the criminal justice system lacks a comprehensive, integrated approach that would enable data to be gathered, analyzed and shared among criminal justice agencies and policymakers.
  • Crime statistics and incarceration rates are important metrics used to evaluate public safety, but they measure only the end points of the problem. Mr. Gardere said that individuals who are placed in desperate circumstances – e.g., generational poverty, a poor education system, or lack of job opportunities – can find their way into situations that can lead to crime. Thus, evaluating systems and programs that address these issues are critical to the public safety discussion. 
  • Mr. Gardere noted that reducing crime in New Orleans will require long-term investments in early childhood education programs, housing stability and job opportunities that pay a living wage. Mr. Asher added that public officials and law enforcement agencies should focus on reducing gun violence with targeted solutions and interventions.

Click here to watch the full event with Lamar Gardere and Jeff Asher.

The views expressed in this program are those of the speakers involved.

BGR Breakfast Briefings give citizens of metropolitan New Orleans the opportunity to hear experts and decision-makers discuss major public policy issues facing the local community. To find out about future Breakfast Briefings and receive notices about new BGR reports, other BGR events and more, sign up for our email list here. BGR thanks everyone who attended this event. Our Breakfast Briefings are free to the public thanks to the generous sponsorship of: