Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 1:08 pm
New Orleans is still reeling from another spate of violence last weekend, when five people were killed by gunfire and 11 wounded, including two toddlers. The city has launched high-profile campaigns to address gun violence, but a big part of the problem is an acute shortage of police.
Karen Rogers lives in the lower 9th Ward, where a recent drive-by shooting left two people dead and several more wounded. Police say it was drug-related.
"This is not the first time [I've heard gunshots]," says Rogers. "This is the first time to actually see people murdered and shot."
Body-worn video cameras are quickly becoming standard-issue for American police, especially at departments in the process of reform. And in New Orleans, the troubled police department is now requiring almost all officers to wear the cameras.
The city's police department has a dark history of corruption, racism and brutality. The low point may have been the Danziger Bridge episode, after Hurricane Katrina, when police shot unarmed people, then covered up the crime.
These days, the department is trying to rebuild the public's trust — which is where the body cameras come in.
New Orleans is making progress toward losing the "murder capital" label. For a second straight year, homicides declined in the city, in keeping with a nationwide trend.
For African-Americans in the city, though, the numbers are less comforting. Of the nearly 350 killings in the past two years, 91 percent of the victims have been black. It's a cycle that's worrisome to the city's African-American community — and law enforcement.