After four years running as the safest city of its size in the nation, El Paso will close out 2014 with an 80 percent increase in murders, reports the Texas Tribune. The jump from 11 murders in 2013 to 20 so far this year doesn’t mean the city is unsafe, analysts insist, and law enforcement officers say spillover crime from Mexico is not to blame. The increase is consistent with recent trends, said U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tx.), one of a group of border Democrats that has for years fought back against claims that Texas border cities are unsafe because of violence in Mexico.
“We're in between as low as five [in 2010], which is remarkable, and as high as 23 [in 2012] in the last four years,” he said. “This [increase] should and does catch our attention. It's concerning but it's not alarming.” O'Rourke often touts the “safest city” title in interviews and congressional hearings on border security and immigration. The increase in murders shouldn’t stain El Paso's image, he said, because major crimes that the FBI designates as “Part 1 crimes,” including rape, aggravated assault, robbery and major theft, are down in El Paso by 6 percent. Victor Manjarrez of the National Center for Border Security and Immigration at the University of Texas at El Paso, said crime statistics change everywhere, and El Paso isn’t any different.