Violent crime has been a big concern ever since Houston and other major cities saw an increase during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Houston Police Department presented its first quarter crime report for 2023 to Houston City Council on Wednesday.
The latest crime analysis showed overall violent crime is down 12%, and the murder rate is down 27% compared to last year. According to the city, unofficially the city recorded 111 murders this year, compared to 152 the first four months of 2022 – a major difference in terms of murders from 2019, when HPD presented its 2022 analysis in January.
"I do think it’s very important for people to continue to hear where we are, whether or not crime is going up, whether or not crime is going down," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "Over the last couple of years, there’s been a lot of talk about crime everywhere, not just in the city, but across the country, and I think it’s important to keep providing people with the information good, bad or indifferent."
There was a decrease in other violent crime categories with robberies down 10%, aggravated assaults down by 12%, rape down by 6%, Kidnapping down by 19%, and Human Trafficking down by 23%. Each council district did see a decrease in crime and more statistics can be found here.
The city had 33 fewer murders compared to this time in 2021 when Houston saw a spike in overall violent crime during the pandemic. That prompted Mayor Sylvester Turner to create his $73 million One Safe Houston initiative, to tackle crime in the city and he said it’s been effective.
"I will say One Safe Houston is working and it’s now been in effect for more than one year and the numbers are reflected, but we still have a lot of work to do," he said.
The initiative focuses on violence Reduction and Crime Prevention, Crisis Intervention, Response and Recovery, Youth Outreach Opportunities, and Key Community Partnerships.
Overall crime is down in the city by 6% and Police Chief Troy Finner said the city has the rest of the year to keep that momentum going.
"When I look at the stats, and I look at each district, each council member’s overall crime is down, and that is to be commended," he said. "This is just the fourth quarter, and I ask that we continue to get support from everybody around in this room, and also our citizens – we still have to make smart decisions, we still have to help our neighbors out."
However, the city did see a 14% increase in property crimes and auto thefts and burglaries have gone up by 2%. Last year, HPD reported 15.645 cases of vehicle theft which included catalytic converters. Assistant Chief Milton Martin said thieves are getting smarter.
"A lot of it is technology," he said. "There’s technology that’s made it easier for them to steal the cars in a way that makes it less obvious, a lot of these cars are actually leaving the state leaving the country they’re being stolen for a purpose."
Chief Troy Finner said another gun buyback event is being scheduled for sometime this summer, but no exact date has been mentioned.