A recent survey by the FBI shows Houston has the second highest murder rate in the country. Top of the list is Philadelphia. This was a ranking Mayor Bill White couldn’t just sit back and take. He responded to the news in this release today:
Mayor Bill White’s Statement on Houston Murder Rate
As a result of Houston Police Department actions, the murder rate began to decline in the last half of 2006 and continues to decline so far in 2007.
As we said in 2005 and early 2006 when we launched the NETT and other initiatives attacking violent crime hot spots, the spike in the murder rate was unacceptable. As these extraordinary actions have had their effect, the murder rate dropped 13% in the last six months of 2006 compared to the first six months. This year so far murders have dropped by more than 9% (from 163 to 148) compared to the same period in 2006. Our strategies to cut this murder rate can always improve, but they are working to bring the murder rate down.
With the regard to the 2006 figures now being reported, the FBI calculated a murder rate per 100,000 people for Houston based on census estimates of a 2,073,729 population as of July 1, 2005. That was before Houston’s population swelled by well over 100,000 people. On the basis of U.S. Post Office change of address information we estimated the 2006 population at 2,198,755. While it is normally fair to make year-to-year comparisons based on population estimates that lag crimes by a year or more, the unusual increase in Houston’s population for 2006 makes our City’s figures for the murder rate per 100,000 not quite comparable to the rate in other communities in 2005.
We believe that the actions we have taken are having a positive effect. Our analysis showed that murders are much more likely to occur in and around identified apartments than in other parts of the City. That is why City Council has targeted both new laws and police resources for these complexes. We have also cut rates of other violent crimes.
All major cities have experienced an increase in the murder rate. To a significant extent police professionals believe these trends are related to narcotics-related activity, and we need far more federal resources to disrupt the flow of drugs to assist us in dismantling wholesale drug networks.