Just as Katrina evacuees started to leave their home to start new outside of New Orleans, police deparments in neighboring “host” cities — San Antonio, Phoenix and Houston — accused survivors of bringing crime into their communities.
However, a recent study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice dispels these myths. The study showed that in Phoenix and Houston there was only a modest increase in murders — San Antonio showed no increase in murders. None of the cities saw a hike in auto theft or assaults which are crimes that would most likely be committed by evacuees, researchers say.
Sean P. Varano, lead author of the study and assistant professor in criminal justice at Roger Williams University, said to the Houston Chronicle:
“Houston, San Antonio, Phoenix … all had pre-existing crime problems they have been struggling with for generations to correct. To say a group came in to a place like Houston and created a crime problem seems to be passing the buck.”
The report doesn’t include if there was an increase in arrests after New Orleans residents fled to these neighboring states. According to the study, 240,000 evacuees fled to Houston, TX, while 30,000 fled to San Antonio, TX and 6,000 to Phoenix, AZ. Did these cities see a spike in arrests of Black residents? Was there an increase in police enforcement of mostly Black neighborhoods? I’d love to read that report.