After a spike in the number of Houston homicides this time last year, violent deaths through February of this year are down, even below the number from two years ago, says the Houston Chronicle. This year, the city has had 52 homicides. There were 60 homicides during the same period last year, a spike attributed to the sudden influx of people fleeing hurricane-ravaged areas. In 2005, the number was 55.
Mayor Bill White credits “intense crime-fighting strategies.” The decrease shows, he says, “that the trends are in the right direction and some of our crime-fighting strategies are working.” One strategy was the formation of a multiagency gang task force. Other measures included a mobile command unit dispatched to high-crime neighborhoods, and the asignment of more officers were also assigned to those neighborhoods, particularly at apartment complexes. The increase in patrols meant more overtime pay. The city expects to spend about $50 million on overtime this fiscal year to make up for a much-publicized officer shortage.