Houston’s murders in 2019 are outpacing the total by this time in 2018 and 2017, the Houston Chronicle reports. Houston homicide detectives have investigated the murders of 210 people, compared to 207 by this time in 2018, and 186 in 2017. That’s a 1.5 percent increase over 2018 and nearly a 13 percent increase since 2017. The increase comes as FBI data show overall crime is down, but violent crime is on the rise. Houston’s violent crime rate has risen 6 percent during Mayor Sylvester Turner’s tenure, while the rate of nonviolent crime has fallen 9 percent, the Chronicle says. The city’s overall crime rate has dropped 6 percent. The numbers come amid an intensifying debate in the mayor’s race over public safety. Candidate Tony Buzbee released a TV ad showing a montage of television reports on violent crime. Buzbee says Houston has more crime than almost any other city in the U.S., a comparison crime analysts said was flawed because it compares Houston to small towns that have virtually no crime.
The Chronicle examined Buzbee’s claims — and others by candidate Bill King — and found that their assertions were not entirely supported by the facts. The paper found that Houston has experienced a significant drop in crime over the last 30 years. Residents’ fear of crime being the city’s most pressing problem has also plummeted: 70 percent of respondents in the 1990s cited the issue in the Kinder Institute’s Houston Area Survey, compared with 15 percent in this year’s edition of the survey. After the Chronicle’sreport, both candidates sharply criticized the paper. A Buzbee surrogate labeled the paper “the enemy.” King criticized the Chronicle’s reporting in light of the new data, issuing a news release saying the paper “erroneously” stated violent crime under Turner has grown 4 percent, a figure that came from preliminary FBI data cited by the city in January.