Mayor White is now ready to focus on crime

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In his final two years as mayor, Bill White says he’ll make crime reduction a priority:

On the other hand though, the Mayor said more work needs to be done, and one area of concern is property crimes, which have been on the rise in Houston in recent months.

“As of said on a number of occasions this last year, it’s too high, we want to see that number drop,” White said. “When we have the Real Time Crime Center up that will help us track those serial burglars, plus we’re doing some other things, number one of which is just getting more people in the field.”

Real Time Crime Center? How does it compare to CompStat, which other large cities have used very effectively to help reduce crime, and which Chief Hurtt has refused to consider?

“We’ve made some real progress in Houston, Texas. And then when you compare the homicide rate per 100-thousand in Houston now, compared to where it was 15 or 16 years ago, it’s a small fraction as to where it was,” the Mayor said Thursday.

That was this week’s other big news — the city’s murder rate for 2007, which the city says is down from 2006, if you trust HPD’s numbers. HPD has just been caught fudging the official stats in previous years, so who knows if the numbers released this week are accurate. Maybe Mark Greenblatt’s looking into it.

Over at Lose an Eye, Cory Crow makes an excellent point about the murder rate:

If you were to “draw a line” through 2006, writing off the large increase in murders during 2006 as a “one off” event sparked by the confusion surrounding the influx of a criminal element from New Orleans (Not to be confused with the ‘normal folks’ who were displaced by Katrina mind you) then you’d see that the “murder rate” in Houston is actually still on the uptick (albeit slight), and the only reason the numbers appear lower is due to the fact that 2006 was exceptionally high.

And, again, we’ve just learned HPD has problems accurately counting murders; the numbers could still increase as HPD admits:

Authorities warn that Houstonians shouldn’t get too excited about the unofficial tally.

As cases are reviewed, the numbers will likely increase.

“There are delayed deaths and delays in rulings,” Jett said. “In the case of an arson death, it may take six months for it to be ruled a homicide. Infant deaths are the same way.”

The problems Mark Greenblatt uncovered, though, were not related to delays in rulings.

And then there’s the whole issue of population numbers. It would be helpful if the story disclosed the source the city is using.


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About Anne Linehan 2323 Articles
Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.