According to Chief McClelland, the murder rate in Houston is down about 29 percent. He says you have to go back to the mid-1960s to find the murder rate that low.
"And I want to remind you, that we actually had a double-digit increase last year. So that 29 percent decrease, is still 29 percent below the double-digit that we had last year. I believe Houston is the safest big city in America."
In the first half of 2011, Houston recorded only 91 murders, compared to 143 the same period last year. The number of murders declined in Houston for the sixth straight year, and McClelland says that is significant since there are so many variables that would normally keep that category high.
"A lot of murder suspects and complaintants, have some type of inter-personal relationship, and it's very, very difficult for the police or law enforcement to control some of the variables that are related to murder. But nevertheless, I think the men and women are working hard, and we're doing a good job from our clearance rates in our murder cases. Not only are they down 29 percent, but our clearance rates are up in the nineties."
The city's homicide rate peaked in 2006, when 376 murders were reported. Since then, the number of murders in Houston has continued to decline slowly, but steadily. McClelland says all of the part 1 property crimes showed a decrease as well.
"And that's burglaries, thefts, auto thefts and burglary of a motor vehicle. So, when we combine all of our property crimes, non-violent and violent, they're down about 7 percent below the decreases of last year."
The latest numbers are making Chief McClelland and his command staff look forward to putting out the department's annual report at the beginning of next year.
"This is something that I certainly want to give credit to all of the men and women at HPD for doing an outstanding job two years in a row, for contributing to the decrease of crime, and improving the quality of life for the citizens of this city."