Murders down in '07, but can trend continue?

January 3, 2008 5:28:49 PM PST
When it comes to murders, Houston was a safer year last year than the year before, at least by the numbers. But what, if anything, will that say about our city this year? In the eyes of some Houstonians, 2007 will go down as the year we turned the corner on crime.

"I think the economy is going to improve and I think it's all about money," said Houston resident Winston Cashin. "As soon as people's financial situation gets established, the crime rate has no choice but to go down."

Unofficially, Houston's murder rate dropped seven percent as the city added some 33,000 new residents. Violent crime overall is down nearly two percent through November.

"We're proud the homicide rate is coming down," said Houston Mayor Bill White. "No homicide is acceptable. We hope we'll see it continue to decline."

But will we? It's a question for which there is no easy answer.

"That's risky business," said University of Houston professor of criminal justice Bob Walsh.

Walsh admits the number of murders is by no means an indicator of what crime will be like in the coming year.

"Often times, we have very little information about the crimes in dealing with offense and offenders. As a consequence, that makes it difficult to make projections based on that," he said

So while it's hard to predict crime, police hope the programs they have in place will help reduce it. That explains why for so many Houstonians, perception is their reality, regardless of what the numbers reflect.

Houston police plan to release the entire year's worth of violent crimes statistics later this moth.