updated 1/7/2007 5:52:23 AM ET 2007-01-07T10:52:23

With at least eight slayings in the city in the first week of the new year, officials are considering a curfew to help stem the violence, the police superintendent said Saturday.

“It’s something we’re just sort of talking about, to see if that will make a difference,” police Superintendent Warren Riley said.

Mayor Ray Nagin, meanwhile, urged residents not to leave the city, still rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina, because of the recent killings. He said the slayings could be a tipping point that “galvanizes our community” to find solutions.

Some residents have called for a march on City Hall on Thursday to demand action to curb the violence.

Nagin and Riley both tried to reassure residents that they were doing all they can to make the city safer. Riley said some covert operations were under way and Nagin said he hoped to have details sometime next week on a “more creative, aggressive” plan developed in talks he has had with local ministers.

Riley said the slayings are a part of a chronic problem that goes back to the city’s school system and what he sees as the city’s failure, over many years, to adequately educate and provide job opportunities for residents.

He said he’s also concerned about making sure “hard-core criminals” are prosecuted and kept in jail.

Problems will continue until there are improvements in the criminal justice system, which has struggled to get court cases moving again since Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, Riley said.

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