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Houston Police: City Is Safer Than Last Year

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland noted decreases in several violent and nonviolent crimes across the city.

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland at a news conference at police headquarters.
Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland 

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland noted decreases in several violent and nonviolent crimes across the city. Compared to 2014, aggravated assaults dropped 3 percent last year, and burglaries dropped 8 percent.

“We’re doing an outstanding job when it comes to the majority of crimes that people are affected by every single day, people breaking into homes, and folks getting their cars broken into,” McClelland says.

McClelland credits that progress in part to the department’s increased use of technology. HPD has launched new features on its website which allow residents to track and report crime in real time.

The chief also noted that 2015 was one of the lowest years on record for citizen complaints, with 209 filed against police. The department reached an all-time low for “use of force” complaints against officers, with 96 filed. McClelland says HPD has undergone a culture change thanks to more community policing.

“Those numbers tell me that things are working on both sides, that we have no Ferguson effect here, that we have a different relationship with our communities,” he says.

Houston did see higher rates of murder and rape last year. McClelland noted that these crimes happen much less frequently than others. They make up only 5 percent of daily violent crimes.

McClelland says the department has received just more than a dozen complaints about open carry this year. The law went into effect across Texas January 1.

The chief HPD has received fewer calls than expected from concerned citizens.

“The questions have been the same,” he says. “The people that called were alarmed. They were unsure if the person should be allowed to have the firearm where they were.”

McClelland says officers responded to each of those calls, and so far, HPD has not arrested anyone for violating the law.

The office of Attorney General Ken Paxton is set to determine if any of the 34 pending complaints regarding facilities in Texas that ban concealed handguns have merit. State law says that local and municipal governments cannot ban concealed handgun holders from carrying weapons in their facilities, unless those facilities fall into one of several weapon-free zones that include courtrooms, polling places and correctional facilities.

A bill that went into effect last September allows people to file a complaint with the attorney general’s office if they believe a state agency or political subdivision is improperly posting the signs where guns are allowed.

 

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Tomeka Weatherspoon

Senior Producer

Tomeka Weatherspoon is an Emmy-award winning producer. She produces segments, the weekly television program Arts InSight, the short film showcase The Territory and a forthcoming digital series on innovation. Originally from the Midwest, Tomeka studied convergence journalism from the world’s first journalism school at the University of Missouri. She has...

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