After two consecutive years of increases, the number and rate of Houston homicides dropped in 2007, reports the Houston Chronicle. The city had 351 homicides through Dec. 31, down from 376 in 2006. That’s 14.4 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2007, compared with 15.9 during 2006. In 2005, Houston recorded 336 homicides, a rate of 14.3 percent. Homicide Capt. Steve Jett credited an increase in patrols as well as overtime dollars for the decrease in overall crime.”It is hard to control murders, but there has been a tremendous effort, with the overtime dollars, to reduce crime,” he said. “If you’re out there putting the criminals in jail, you’re reducing crime across the board.”
In October, Police Chief Harold Hurtt announced an ambitious strategy to reduce violent crime by at least 10 percent over three years – with plans to beef up both the staff and the overtime budget. Mayor’s office spokesman Frank Michel cautioned that, “The population of Houston has exploded, so the rate is the key figure.” Other large cities may be touting decreased murder rates in recent weeks, but the decline is likely because their city’s population is shrinking, he said.