Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston Police Department announced on Tuesday that for the first time in more than a year, Houston’s homicide rate is showing a decline. As of that announcement, there is an unofficial number of 187 homicides in Houston thus far in 2022 compared to 192 homicides at this time last year.
But before sharing the positive news, Turner first thanked HPD, the Houston Fire Department and all municipal employees for the way they handled what he called a stressful week, referring to the Uvalde tragedy and subsequent NRA Convention that brought the eyes of the nation and world upon the George R. Brown Convention Center, host of the NRA event, and Discovery Green where protesters demanded gun reform.
The Tuesday press conference offered much less fireworks as Turner shared that the nearly 3% decline in the city’s homicide rate is an indication of the efficacy of the One Safe Houston initiative, a comprehensive public safety plan aimed at holistically addressing, and in some cases rebuilding, the public safety ecosystem in Houston.
“There’s been a lot of conversation and reports in reference to record-breaking crime in our city, especially as it relates to homicides,” said Turner. “At the beginning of this year, in January, the reports were being made saying that homicides were at a record-breaking pace, ahead of where things were a year ago… that homicides were up at least 65% over and above last year-to-date.”
Turner mentioned that the city then instituted his One Safe Houston initiative on Feb 2, 2022 using $52 million of American Rescue Plan funding to address crime in Houston.
“We took a very holistic approach in doing it. It was an all-hands-on deck approach,” Turner shared, highlighting HPD’s increased “boots on the ground” and overtime initiative amounting to 125 more officers per day on Houston streets. He also spotlighted work done by the city’s legal department, city council, Harris County, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Crime Stoppers and others.
Turner also gave a shout out to the Biden-Harris administration for the federal dollars Houston received to help with crime reduction efforts.
“For the last several months we’ve been trending in the right direction in almost every category with the exception of homicides. We have been below year-to-date, where we were. This morning, for example, looking at the numbers for the first time this year we are now below where we were year-to-date as it relates to homicides,” said Turner.
“Last year, at this time, there were 192 murders in our city. As of this morning that number is 187. And so, we are 3% below where we were last year. And those numbers have been trending in the right direction. And not just on homicides, but almost in all other categories of violent crime have been trending in the right direction.
Turner, however isn’t satisfied.
“I am not here at all to say that is a mission accomplished. Not saying that at all. What I am here to say, and what I want to assure Houstonians is that with the initiative, the One Safe Houston plan that we put in place, if you’re looking at the numbers, it is working. It is effective. It is having an impact.”
Turner gave some specifics about additional efforts needed to keep the city trending in the right direction when it comes to crimes.
“I commend HPD for the work it is doing,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “We have put more officers on the streets through overtime and cadet classes. There is still too much gun violence in our city and too many guns in the hands of dangerous and violent individuals, but our work and that of the Houston Police Department is making a difference.”
As of Tuesday, HPD was showing decreases in all four major violent crime categories. The reported number of robberies are down about 14%, while reported rapes have decreased by 33% and aggravated assaults have lowered by more than 9%.”
“Thank you to our citizens for your continued support. We need you to help us solve violent crimes and that increased interaction with our citizens is working,” said Executive Chief Assistant Matt Slinkard. “To the hard-working men and women of HPD and our fellow law enforcement officers in this region, thank you for doing what you are doing. Collectively, we are making a difference.”
One Safe Houston is a $50 million investment funded by the American Rescue Plan and focuses on four key areas:
• Violence Reduction and Crime Prevention
• Crisis Intervention, Response and Recovery
• Youth Outreach Opportunities
• Key Community Partnerships
The City of Houston plans to launch a gun buyback program in July and in partnership with Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis’ office.
For more information on the One Safe Houston initiative, please visit https://www.houstontx.gov/onesafehouston/.