Houston's Murder Rate Lowest In Four Decades

The violent crime statistics are preliminary and not all of the numbers have been released.

But Homicide Captain David Gott says the murder rate in 2011 was the lowest since 1965, with 198 people killed.

"One thing I do want to say though, is that's still 198 Houstonians that we lost to violence and clearly that is still way too many people. But clearly we're headed in the right direction."

Preliminary numbers for 2011 show the murder rate is down 26.4 percent from 2010. That's following an eight percent decrease the year before that.

The murder rate has been steadily dropping since 2006. Gott says not only is the overall total of murders down, the per capita rate is down as well.

"If you look back in our recorded history back to 1930, when they first started counting through the FBI's uniform crime reports, 2011 was our lowest murder total per person than we have ever had. It's 9.4 persons murdered per 100,000. The only time that we have been below ten previously was in 1963, and that was 9.9 persons. So I think that's really an incredible statistic."

Overall violent crimes, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, are down across the board. HPD Chief Charles McClelland says there are many variables that lead to lower crime.

"Meaning putting the resources much faster where we see hot spots, by using our technology and our 24/7 crime center. We're able to respond quicker, getting guns and drugs off the street. And I'd certainly be remiss if I did not thank the relationship that we have with the citizens of this city. The information and the tips that they call in add greatly to the success rate we have in solving these crimes."

When asked if he thinks Houston is safer now than it used to be, Chief McClelland says the statistics prove it and he calls Houston the safest large city in the nation.

The highest number of killings recorded in Houston was in 1981, when 701 people were murdered.

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