Houston has a higher rate of violent crime than any other Texas city and ranks among the highest in the nation, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of FBI crime data in the 25 most populous U.S. cities. The city also has fewer police officers per capita or per square mile than the national average, the analysis shows.
In the nearly six years of Mayor Bill White’s administration, the number of police officers has remained roughly the same, despite the Houston Police Department budget increasing more than 40 percent since 2004, from about $480 million to $680 million for fiscal 2010. That increase is due almost entirely to the ballooning costs of salaries, pension and health care benefits built into police contracts with the city. The federal government last week declined to provide stimulus funding for additional police academy classes based on the city’s fiscal health and recent declines in Houston’s crime rate compared to previous years.