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HOUSTON — Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Houston Police Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr. today announced a dramatic drop in Houston’s murder rate, to a level not seen since 1965 and the lowest per capita rate in the city’s history. Unofficial preliminary numbers from the Houston Police Department indicate the city’s murder rate plunged 26.4 percent to 198 murders for 2011, continuing the decreases of the last several years. From 2006 to 2007, there was a six percent decrease, from 2007 to 2008, a 16 percent decrease, from 2008 to 2009, a one percent decrease and from 2009 to 2010, an eight percent decrease.
Preliminary figures also show that the city’s overall violent crime rate – which includes not only murder but also rape, robbery and aggravated assault – declined seven percent through November of 2011.
“Crime is down across the board and we are going to work to make sure it stays down,” said Mayor Parker. “Public safety has been a pillar of my administration and it will remain so in my second term of office. I understand the importance of a safe city to our quality of life. I am proud of the job of our men and women in blue and proud that, despite the worst economy in decades, we have avoided having to follow the lead of other cities in laying off police and fire fighters.”
Mayor Parker and Chief McClelland noted that the decline in the murder rate is part of a team effort that includes not only HPD, but also the Houston Fire Department and its paramedics and emergency medical technicians, who also help to save lives at crime scenes.
Chief McClelland said, “One murder is still too many, let alone 198. While we are pleased that 2011 finished up in this fashion, we want to continue to build on our successes.” Chief McClelland added, “I certainly want to give credit to all our men and women in HPD for doing an outstanding job, two years in a row, for contributing to the decrease in crime and making Houston a safer place for its residents.”
There are numerous factors that could have contributed to the dramatic decline in the city’s murder rate, including the fact that HPD has one of the best trained and prepared patrol forces in the nation and a 24-Hour Real Time Crime Center, which tracks crime in a real-time capacity and updates information every six hours. In addition, the Crime Reduction Unit (CRU), a large field force deployed to identified “hot spot” areas, has been successful in disrupting criminal activity.
The Investigative First Responder Division (IFR), created about two years ago, has also been a possible key factor in this historic decline. IFR is largely responsible for aggressively investigating crimes right after they occur. The clearance rate for homicide investigations has held at a consistent 90% rate for the last two years, which is one of the highest in the nation.