Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Lake Charles American Press on Louisiana’s murder rate:
New statistics released by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program should be alarming for Louisiana residents and law enforcement agencies statewide.
According to the data, the state had the highest murder rate out of the 50 U.S. states last year. Louisiana’s murder rate was 11.8, and an estimated 554 murders occurred in 2016.
The rates are calculated based on the number of murders and non-negligent manslaughters per 100,000 people. Louisiana’s population was just over 4.68 million.
This isn’t the first time Louisiana has led the nation in the murder rate. Jeff Asher, a New Orleans-based crime analyst said in a tweet that it’s actually the 28th year, according to the UCR stats.
Looking at other states, Missouri had the second highest murder rate of 8.8, with an estimated 537 murders reported last year. Alabama had a murder rate of 8.4, with 407 murders occurring last year.
The report also collected data for Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Both of their murder rates were higher than Louisiana, with 20.4 for Washington D.C. and 19.9 for Puerto Rico.
According to the UCR website, the estimated violent crimes throughout the U.S. in 2016 increased by 4.1 percent from 2015. The 17,250 estimated murders in the U.S. last year was 8.6 percent higher than in 2015.
However, this UCR data isn’t completely accurate. According to the Times-Picayune, the FBI gathers crime data that is voluntarily submitted by more than 16,700 law enforcement agencies on various levels. What makes the data incomplete is the fact that roughly 1,700 eligible agencies did not submit the data for the report.
Even local law enforcement officials have questioned the accuracy of the UCR. During a meeting last July, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier said the difference from the UCR and the National Incident-Based Reporting System is significant.
Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said his department “never uses the UCR” when drafting its crime report and called the results “so inaccurate.”
Other states had lower murder rates but had more murders reported. Some of them include California (1,930), Texas (1,478), Florida (1,111), Illinois (1,054) and Georgia (681).
While the UCR numbers may not be right on the nose, the fact that Louisiana had the highest murder rate last year isn’t a statistic to be proud of. This report should at the very least be a reminder of the need to curb violent crime in the state and nationwide.
The Advocate on Louisiana’s hurricane season:
Has Louisiana faced its final hurricane threat for the year?
We hope so, although last weekend’s late-season arrival of Hurricane Nate underscored the need for continued vigilance.
Luckily, Nate only brushed the southeastern tip of Louisiana, doing little damage to the state as it rolled ashore. October hurricanes are rare in this part of the world, but it’s been an unusual season. For the first time since 2005, at least four hurricanes have hit the United States and its territories this year.
Harvey devastated Houston on Aug. 25, and Irma wreaked havoc across Florida on Sept. 10. Puerto Rico is in ruins after Maria menaced the island on Sept. 20.
The last time Americans faced such a busy storm season was in 2005, when five hurricanes made landfall here. Most Louisiana residents need no reminding of what that terrible year was like. After the unspeakable agony of Katrina, followed by levee failures in New Orleans, southwest Louisiana endured Rita’s wrath.
Those memories remain vivid, which is one reason why state and local officials did the right thing in taking Nate’s approach seriously. We’re fortunate that the storm passed with little impact on Louisiana. But even in an age of advanced meteorology, hurricanes can be unpredictable. That uncertainty underscores the importance of being prepared, although the urgencies of emergency preparations have given all of us a good bit of weather fatigue at this point.
At the very least, the preparations for Nate across south Louisiana provided good practice for facing the next storm.
We’ll cross our fingers and hope that another hurricane doesn’t visit the state for a long time. Louisiana is still dealing with last year’s massive flooding in both the northern part of the state and the Baton Rouge area. Another wallop from a hurricane right now would only complicate an already fragile rebound.
Hurricane season officially runs through the end of November. Typically, Halloween brings a sigh of relief, since November hurricanes are even rarer than October storms.
But in this sad, crazy year for weather, precedent isn’t necessarily the best guide for predicting the rest of the hurricane season. If we can approach Thanksgiving without any more hurricanes blowing across the region, we’ll have even more reasons for gratitude at the holiday table.
In largely avoiding Nate’s effects, Louisiana residents are better able to help fellow Americans who haven’t been as fortunate. The recovery challenges in Texas and Florida remain formidable - in Puerto Rico, even more so.
Now is the time to give generously, as our fellow Americans helped us in Louisiana’s darkest hours.
The Courier of Houma on coastal research:
A local research organization has gotten $4.8 million that will help it continue its vital mission of studying the continuing impact of the 2010 BP oil spill on our wetlands.
The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium is conducting Oil Spills as Stressors in Coastal Marshes: The Legacy and the Future.
The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative contributed the grant to assist in this important research project.
The project includes a two-year plan to study various aspects of the oil spill’s fallout.
This is crucial work that will help researchers get a better grasp on the impact of the oil spill and, in the process, better understand the complicated relationship among so many parts of our resilient ecosystems.
Although they are resilient, they suffered from the effects of the catastrophic oil spill.
Even now, more than seven years later, the oil spill continues to affect the wildlife, water quality, plants and even the soil along our coast.
The questions the researchers at LUMCON are trying to answer will eventually pinpoint the exact harm that has been done and to what degree the damage remains even now.
LUMCON is an incredibly significant organization, one that is helping us to expand our knowledge about the water and wetlands that play such big parts in our lives.
From our economy to our culture, from the oilfield to the fisheries, water and wetlands help determine how successful and happy we are.
These are not trivial concerns.
Long after the visible evidence of the oil spill had been removed, the impacts continued deep under the water and along our coast.
But because the disaster was so huge, the specific effects could be years or even decades becoming understood.
Because of the people and facilities at LUMCON and the various groups that help it accomplish its mission, we will eventually know the full impact of the spill.
That will be useful in determining what we can do to lessen the impact of this and future spills - though, with any luck, we will never again see such an environmental calamity.
For as much as we know about the vast expanse of nature that surrounds us, there are still many pressing questions. And LUMCON’s research is helping to answer them.
Congratulations on this impressive grant. May it aid in the mission that will help us all.
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