Data Contradict Houston Pols’ Claims About Crime Wave

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After two mayoral candidates decried a supposed crime wave in Houston, the Houston Chronicle dug into data showing most categories of crime in the city have fallen or remained stagnant during the current mayor’s term, which began in January 2016. The newspaper quoted criminologists who acknowledge that any big city will be more violent than small cities but who scoff at the claim that Houston is among the country’s most dangerous cities.

One of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s challengers, Tony Buzbee, called Houston “one of the most dangerous cities in the world,” while another, Bill King, cited a “growing randomness and violence to crime that alarms people.” King said home video surveillance has increased awareness of crime beyond what’s revealed in “dry crime statistics.” But those statistics show that violent crime is up about 4 percent since 2015, the year before Turner took office, despite a sharp decline from 2017 to 2018. Non-violent crime has dropped about 6 percent since 2015. From 2015 to 2018, murders dropped and robberies fell; burglaries decreased; thefts fell; and fewer vehicles were stolen. The exceptions were aggravated assaults and rapes, which rose in 2017 before declining again in 2018. “When we talk about the murder capitals of the country, the violent crime capitals of the country, Houston is not one of the cities people put on that list,” said Jeff Asher, a New Orleans-based criminologist. “At least anyone familiar with the data.”

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