HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — Houston’s homicide rate is rising despite a new, high-profile crackdown on crime.
Mayor Sylvester Turner made a nationwide appearance on Good Morning America promoting “One Safe Houston,” a $53 million program to fight crime in the city first announced in February.
“It’s part of the support of our police department adding 125 more officers a day through our overtime program,” Turner said on GMA. “So it’s adding more police, pricing more technology, and addressing crisis prevention, intervention and diversion.”
While the mayor spoke proudly of the program, the homicide rate continues to climb compared to 2021, with more people dying at gunpoint.
According to the Houston Police Department, there were 279 homicides in Houston in 2022. This time in 2021 there were 267 murders. In 2020 there were still 205.
ABC13’s Brooke Taylor asked HPD boss Troy Finner what he needs to see to be confident the program is working.
“If those numbers are going down and we’re not talking about it and it’s hard to measure, how are our citizens feeling?” Finner previously told ABC13. “I want to get those people who live in the neighborhood out there and do some surveys.”
Turner called the program a success, but some people who live in places the city considers crime hotspots said they don’t see much of a difference.
Ilean Cooper, who has lived in Sunnyside for more than 60 years and knows her neighborhood better than most, said she’s never seen crime as bad as it is now.
“It’s only getting worse,” Cooper said. “It’s never been like this.”
While homicides are increasing, other violent crimes such as assault, rape and robbery have decreased compared to 2021, according to the Houston Police Department.
One Safe Houston funded a $1 million gun buyback program. Turner called the program a success after collecting more than 800 guns.
“If we had taken a gun off the street that could seriously injure or kill someone, then the program was worth it,” Turner told Good Morning America.
Houston Police Union president Douglas Griffith believes it’s a waste of money and could be better spent at a time when police are running at their leanest in years.
“Our biggest problem right now is recruiting people and trying to come here and be cops,” Griffith said. “Our starting salary as a police officer is $42,000 for your first year, so we could use that money for hiring bonuses. Whatever we have to do. It’s the only way to stop crime.”
Longtime residents like Cooper can only hope that one day the city will go down the right path. For now, all she has to do is wait and see.
“There’s just so much crime everywhere, not just in this community, but everywhere,” Cooper said.
For updates on this story, follow Brooke Taylor on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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https://abc13.com/one-safe-houston-program-crime-crackdown-homicide-rates-up-in/12113466/ Does One Safe Houston work? Data shows that homicide rates have risen in the city despite a crime reduction program