The gist: The numbers are grim. Lafayette has sustained two consecutive years of rising homicides and gun violence. There aren’t any easy answers, but here are a few approaches.
34 people were murdered in 2021. That’s a 47% increase in Lafayette Parish over 2020. Nationwide, homicides jumped 30%.
What’s causing it? The short answer is we don’t know, a fact that complicates how to respond.
Here are three responses:
- The “both and” approach. There is strong evidence that more policing deters violent crime, certainly in the short-term. But criminologists point out investments in non-police interventions also pay off but take longer. One idea is doing both: investing in police strategies like problem-oriented policing and social service programs.
- Eliminate blight. Reactivating abandoned buildings was found to correlate with a 40% reduction in gun violence, according to a 2016 analysis of programs in Philadelphia. Lafayette has more than 1,200 orphaned properties — many abandoned for years — with a heavy concentration in poorer neighborhoods.
- Summer jobs. Several studies have found strong links between youth job programs and reductions in both violent crime and property crime. Youth disconnection — the number of kids neither working nor in school — in Lafayette Parish is around 10%, according to this report.
What you can do. This is a community problem and demands a community response. Attend council meetings. Fire off a message to your council rep and let them know what you think.