Hurtt: Surging murder rate "very much unacceptable"

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KPRC-2 reports that the murder rate in Houston shot up again in April:

Chief Hurtt

Houston’s murder rate for April was the highest in the past three years, KPRC Local 2 reported.

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt spoke at Wednesday’s City Council meeting to discuss the rising violent crime rate.

There have been 124 homicides committed in Houston in the first four months of 2006, with 34 of those occurring in April. There were 27 murders reported in April 2005 and 28 in April 2004.

Not to worry, though. Houston’s bumbling police chief bumbles through saying that this just won’t do:

“We’re here today to talk about some of the violent crime, specifically the murder rate,” Hurtt said. “That is still very much unacceptable.”

It’s not merely unacceptable. It’s VERY MUCH unacceptable! Got that, bad guys?

Chief Hurtt has deployed his van, after all, and an acronym:

The department recently rolled out a highly visible squad known as the Unified Neighborhood Enhancement Team. The officers assigned to the unit travel in a large van to different locations throughout southwest Houston, which has one of the highest violent crime rates in the city.

It wouldn’t be perennial news ratings loser KPRC if there weren’t some gaffes in the reporting:

Officials told KPRC Local 2 that residents are making officers aware of crimes that would normally go unreported.

Hurtt said the police department is still understaffed. He would like to add 5,000 new officers in the next couple of years.

We’re thinking that the surge in April murder numbers — the focus of the story (aside from the above digression) — isn’t explained by the fact that the Crime Van/Acronym combination has been out receiving corpses from residents who previously had not reported murders!

And while we certainly wish the chief were adding 5,000 new officers in two years, we think it’s more likely that he said the department hopes to boost personnel to 5,000 officers total. It’s hard to imagine the police force more than doubling in two years.

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