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by Peter Moskos

January 26, 2009

No Sh*t

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports: "New Orleans breeds bold killers: half of murders occur in daytime."

Duh. Three ace reporters have bylines on this story. Didn't it occur to one of them to compare their stats with other cities?

They report: "About half of last year's 179 murders in New Orleans occurred in daylight," which is defined as between 6am and 8pm.

Now this isn't real hard-core research, but sitting at my computer drinking my morning coffee, I can discover that in Oakland, 55% of homicides happen between 6am and 10pm.

In Australia
(the whole country of 20 million, by the way, over a 13-year period ending in 2002, has an average of 316 homicides a year--that's a homicide rate about 1/30th of Baltimore City)...

In Australia, 61% of homicides happen between 6am and midnight.

Here's a table showing juvenile gun violence by time of day. I bet that homicides correlate pretty strongly with this chart.

That chart also reflects police call volume in high-crime areas pretty well. And thus (in part) why I liked working midnights.

My point is that of course half of homicides happen during daylight hours because that's when people are awake and out and about. And they increase throughout the day because that when problems develop and people get drunk. People don't wait till dark before killing somebody. People kill when they're pissed off and have the means and desire to do so. And when it's bed time, the violence goes down. People go to sleep and have sweet dreams. Then, just like Groundhog Day, it starts over again. And generally, people who kill aren't early risers.

So instead trying to find a grabbing headline or presenting this amazing fact as some deep pathology of criminals unique to New Orleans, perhaps the reporters should have just used the google.

[Note: In defense of the reporters (Laura Maggi, Brendan McCarthy and Brian Thevenot). Reporters don't write their own headlines. The rest of the story is pretty good. The fault may lay with an editor trying to make a story and an attention-grabbing headline where there really is no story.]

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