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New Orleans Innovations Reduce Violent Deaths
In the last two decades, New Orleans has ranked as a murder-capital of America for cities over 250,000 people. As reported by Jessica Leber from Co.Exist, to change this, New Orleans was one of five cities invested in by Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2011. With $4.2 million to create an Innovation Delivery Team, the city was mandated to find new methods of addressing violence and murder.
The Innovation Delivery Team in New Orleans referred to experts and outsiders to understand the issues and discuss potential solutions. According to Leber, New Orleans "studied strategies used in other cities like Memphis, Chicago, and New York. It flew in people like a University of Cincinnati professor who helped the police audit the data and attribute every gang-related murder to a specific group. It held focus groups with young men who were at-risk for violence, asking them what they thought. In the end, the team had a laundry list of 130 different programs and initiative that it could consider."
With these efforts, the group formed NOLA for Life, creating a multi-agency gang unit responsible for prosecution of crime, programs for released prisoners to gain employment and prevent re-entry into crime, and increasing economic opportunities for African American males.
These strategies have seen marked results, as murders in 2013 dropped to 155 people, the lowest in New Orleans since 1985. While a task force of data analysis for a city is not revolutionary, the "structured approach, the level of coordination across city government and even outside of it, and the mandate of the mayor to know that ideas will be heard and implemented" is truly what made this project a success.