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Fear Of Crime On The Wane Across Greater Houston, Rice Survey Finds

The annual Houston Area Survey, produced Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, finds fewer than 20 percent of respondents fear becoming a victim of a crime, down from more than 40 percent in the mid-1990s.



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Houstonians are less worried about crime than they have been in decades, according to the 36th Houston Area Survey, produced by Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Only 18 percent of survey respondents said they fear becoming the victim of a crime, or of a family member becoming a victim. That's down from 43 percent in 1995.

"Nineteen-ninety-four, five, and six were a time of tremendous fear of crime," said Rice University's Steven Klineberg, speaking as a guest on Houston Matters. Klineberg has conducted the study since 1982. "It was the crack cocaine epidemic. It was a whole range of things that were going on then. But then we've been watching a pretty unmistakable secular shift. People are still worried, but much less than they were before. Far less preoccupied with crime and with the need to get tough on crime."

This year's survey also included a new question, "How comfortable would you feel calling the police for help if you needed assistance?" A majority of U.S.-born Anglos reported they strongly agreed with the sentiment (81 percent). So too did both U.S.-born Hispanics (67 percent) and Hispanic immigrants (72 percent). That's despite rising political tensions about the role of local police in deporting undocumented immigrants.

But for African Americans, that number came in at only 49 percent. "So what that survey tells us is that, still today and unmistakably, the most problematic relationships between communities and the police are with the African American community," Klineberg said, "and that's where the work needs to be done."

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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