HPD Chief Celebrates Crime Rate Drop Despite Police Shortage
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HOUSTON, TX — Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo released the 2017 crime stats for the city indicating a drop in the overall crime rate by 2.1 percent.

Acevedo, who praised Mayor Sylvester Turner for his support of the police department, said the city is still short-staffed in a city of 3 million.

"The good news is that we are on the right track in a lot of ways," Acevedo said. "Our mayor, Sylvester Turner and his council colleagues, really consider public safety their number one mission."

While Acevedo heaped accolades on Turner, he chided Gov. Greg Abbott for his proposal cap tax revenue on cities.

Last week Abbot unveiled his property tax plan that called for a cap on revenue increases for local taxing entities at 2.5 percent a year.

"It's pretty easy to do when you are sitting in a capital building and don't have to respond to crime scenes day in and day out…," he said. "To further cripple the ability of cities to keep people safe, I think would be irresponsible. I hope the political theater is just that."

Acevedo said Houston is an "artificially cash-starved" city with just 5,100 officers in what will be America's third largest city by 2020, and they are continually trying to do more with less.

The 2017 Crime Stats for Houston included:

Violent Crimes:

  • Murders: Down 10.6 percent. 269 murders were committed in 2017 with 53 of those described as gang-related; 43 were related to domestic or family violence; nine were murder-suicide; 17 were narcotics-related; 20 were robbery-related; 35 percent of the victims knew their killers, 73 percent of the murder victims had a criminal history;
  • Robberies: Down 1.9 percent, included 200 few robberies reported in 2017 versus 2016.

Non-violent crimes: Overall down 4.3 percent

  • Burglaries: Down 7.4 percent
  • Auto thefts: Down 8.9 percent
  • Thefts: Down 2.6 percent

Some of the stats didn't include Jugging, which involves a suspect staking out a bank or a business and following their victim to steal their money or property.

Jugging could be classified as non-violent theft, but in recent instances, those crimes have become violent.

Acevedo said the Houston Police and the Harris County District Attorney's Office are working to reclassify jugging as a violent crime , which could lead to stiffer sentences when a jugger is arrested.

"In 2018, you are going to see the criminal justice system coming down hard on juggers," Acevedo said.

While the city saw some decreases, the bad news is that sexual assaults increased 12.6 percent from 1,224 in 2016 to 1,378 in 2017.

Aggravated assaults, which typically involve a deadly weapon, increased 13.8 percent fro 12,484 in 2016, to 14,208 in 2017.

Acevedo said the statistics on aggravated assault wasn't a policing issue, but a societal issue and a lack of respect for each other.

"This was unheard of when we were kids," he said. "The good news is that 70 percent of the victims knew the suspect...that's an issue of how we interact with one another. That doesn't speak to the laws, that speaks to human decency and how we treat each other. It's OK to turn around and walk away, rather than get a chair and break it over somebody's head..."

Acevedo added that the city has also worked to ease fears the immigration community of the police officers acting as immigration agents in the wake of the passage of Senate Bill 4 in 2017.

"People are realizing that it's OK to report a crime and it's OK to come forward as a witness...because HPD is only interested in justice, not being an immigration agent," he said.

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