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March 12, 2009

ULM professor’s work seeks answers to Crescent City’s crime drop

The rapid decline in New Orleans crime in the late 1990s is the focus of a book written by an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Kevin A. Unter, Ph.D., authored the book, “Melding Police and Policy to Dramatically Reduce Crime in the City of New Orleans: A Study of the New Orleans Police Department.” The book, published by Mellen Press, analyzes reasons for the city’s rapid decline in crime from 1996 to 1999 within the studied time frame of 1985 to 2005.

“This book is the culmination of my years living in New Orleans and working as a consultant to the NOPD and other large-city police departments around the country,” said Unter, who studied the command status management and accountability (COMSTAT) style of policing in New Orleans implemented in the late 90s.

Unter, department head of Gerontology, Sociology and Political Science at ULM, compares the results of COMSTAT in New Orleans to similar efforts to reduce crime in the rest of the country by drawing on political and criminological theories of policing as well as sociological theories.

“The book … demonstrates that effective police management and accountability, and policing tactics can significantly reduce crime,” said Unter.

Unter concludes that politicians and other decision makers can, and should, adopt the crime-reducing strategies outlined in his work to dramatically improve the quality of life for their city's residents.

The ULM professor has received raves for the publication.

“In a rigorous analysis, Dr. Unter’s findings provide new ideas on how to understand what many may see as a dichotomy between the perceptions of police chiefs and the academic world on how crime reduction is achieved in America," wrote Dr. Ronal W. Serpas, Former Chief of Operations, New Orleans Police Department.

Professor William P. McLean of Arkansas State University stated that while Unter’s book “coalesces around violent crime reduction,” it also effectively highlights the links between the NOPD as implementers of crime policy, as set forth by the political leaders of New Orleans, and the resulting crime rates and improved public support of the police department.

“Dr. Unter’s very impressive work offers a research-based answer to the cynics who declare New Orleans to be in a bankrupt status in terms of reversing … murderous trends,” said Professor Peter Scharf of Tulane University.

The book’s web page may be found at the Mellen Press web site by visiting:

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