NOLA For Life makes strides to reduce crime in the city


More than 1,000 people attended the first ever NOLA for Life job fair held Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Employment is one of the key aspects of NOLA For Life, which is New Orleans mayor’s plan to reduce murder rates in the city.

NOLA For Life is New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s comprehensive murder reduction strategy created to reduce the city’s high murder rate.

“We launched NOLA For Life in May 2012 to tackle the city’s historically high murder rate and to help change the culture of violence,” Keisha McGee, communications manager for the Office of the Mayor, said.

McGee said NOLA For Life takes a holistic approach to get to the root of the murder problem in New Orleans.

William Thornton, professor of sociology and chairman of the department of criminal justice, said that NOLA For Life’s main initiative is to get communities with issues with violence involved in preventing lethal violence instead of isolating them as high-risk areas.

McGee said NOLA For Life’s goals are to implement its initiatives under five main pillars. These include creating safer neighborhoods, investing in the family unit and individuals to help prevent crime, creating job and life opportunities, rebuilding neighborhoods and strengthening the New Orleans Police Department.

McGee said the number of murders has gone down 25 percent compared to this time last year, and that to date, the New Orleans police-led Multi-Agency Gang Unit has indicted 74 individuals from seven gangs as part of a coordinated multi-jurisdictional effort to focus on group and gang activity.

McGee said New Orleans had the fewest murders in the first nine months of the year since 1971, with the exception of 2006, when the city’s population dropped to record lows as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

McGee said 24 individuals identified as at-risk have taken advantage of job placement and training, GED preparation, housing assistance, emergency financial assistance, childcare, substance abuse counseling and mental health counseling as part of a program called the Group Violence Reduction Strategy.

Landrieu’s 2013 NOLA Youth Works Summer Jobs Program provided 1,600 young people ages 13-21 with work experience at private companies, non-profit organizations and other entities.

NOLA For Life Days have engaged nearly 1,000 citizens in cleaning up crime hot spots, reducing blight and improving infrastructure.

NOLA For Life’s CeaseFire program mediates conflicts in order to prevent violence, particularly shootings, and as of mid-October 2013, the Central City target area has seen over 200 days without a murder.

Thornton said that lethal violence cannot be ended with only arrests and incarcerations. He said that decreasing lethal violence in the city could be done through raising awareness and getting people in the community involved.

McGee said NOLA For Life seeks to enhance existing initiatives that support the creation and implementation of new anti-murder efforts that are data-driven and multi-disciplinary.

“We will encourage and facilitate continued interagency collaboration to ensure that all murder reduction initiatives are well-informed, comprehensive, targeted and can be measured for effectiveness,” McGee said.

McGee said NOLA For Life hopes to have youth and families flourishing in safe neighborhoods with high quality educational, economic and cultural opportunities that enable each person to be healthy, self-reliant and able to realize their dreams and aspirations.

Burke Bischoff can be reached at [email protected]