Amidst the high murder rates in New Orleans, this woman is often one of the first on the scene
new orleans – Sometimes the grief feels too heavy for Tamara Jackson, a victim advocate in a city dubbed the homicide capital of the country.
“I just have to turn off my feelings,” Jackson said. “If you don’t, I’ll be emotionally drained, and have to make myself valuable and useful to the next family.”
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More than 50 people were killed New Orleans so far this year. Three died in a Car chase and shooting. A fifteen-year-old girl was hit by a bullet in the wall During sleep. He had two siblings They were shot at the intersection Less than a year after their younger brother was shot dead.
Jackson works in the coroner’s office and is sent to the scene of as many murders as possible. She comforts the victims’ loved ones and helps guide them through the legal system.
“Their grief and trauma must be addressed,” she said. “And I’m a therapist. So even though I respond, I’m also able to intervene in a crisis at a time when it’s most needed.”
Jackson knows what it’s like to be in the victims’ families’ shoes — her father was murdered nearly 23 years ago.
“I was one of those people,” she said. “So I hate to say I understand, because every situation is different…but I do have some working knowledge of how that could be, because I felt that way.”
Why is this woman the first at the crime scene. He watches:
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Violent crime has risen dramatically in New Orleans over the past few years. was the city Most homicides per capita among major American cities in September, briefly earning it the title of the nation’s homicide capital. Just three years ago, New Orleans had the lowest number of murders—119—in nearly half a century.
“We don’t have the population we had before Katrina, and we’re still going through tragedy after tragedy,” Jackson said. Violence continues and people are dying.”
Bereaved families may have questions about a crime Jackson said the police could not answer. She sees her job as bridging the gap between two vital partners in the investigation.
“I can collect information from families and share it with law enforcement, and vice versa,” she said. “Family are the main allies because they know [the victim]good or bad.”
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Jackson is also the Executive Director of Silence is Violence, a community organization founded in 2007 to promote safety and youth participation in New Orleans.
She said she made valuable connections on the inside law enforcement She hasn’t had it in 16 years. But she also faces bureaucratic hurdles when working with the government. Jackson said her brief stint in the mayor’s office to prevent gun violence was interrupted during a funding freeze.
“The community will be there first before the law is applied,” she said. “So we need to build stronger societies, healthier societies.”
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On a good day, there are no murders that Jackson responds to. Those days are getting less and less.
“I’ve been through six days [homicides]”We’re all moving the same people from scene to scene. We don’t have enough people where we can send a whole new crew responding,” she said.
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Jackson has a ritual after dealing with a particularly difficult scene. She’ll sit in her SUV, take a minute to breathe and say a prayer.
But another family is waiting, so once she’s recharged and ready to take the job “110% again,” Jackson shifts her car into the drivetrain and heads to the next crime scene where she’ll meet the coroner and homicide detective.
And they will do it again.