Murder rate down from last year

April 8, 2009 5:40:39 PM PDT
City leaders say year-to-date, the murder rate has actually decreased by about 20%. At this time in 2008, there were 85 murders. Thus far in 2009, there have been 68. The city says some of that decrease can be attributed to an intense focus on curbing apartment complex violence.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

When Loretta Brown moved into an apartment complex just off I-10 she was expecting to see her share of crime.

"It's quiet. This is a bad neighborhood, but over here in these apartments it's been pretty good," said Brown.

That relative peace Brown has enjoyed is no accident. This particular complex was one of 30 targeted by the city of Houston for a remedial program aimed at reducing crime. The key was getting apartment managers to participate.

"Having management on site, and then, like I said, working with the residents one-on-one, and having them police each other," said apartment manager Rosanna Raines.

Assistant Chief Mike Thaler gave an impressive progress report to council members. Among the 30 targeted complexes, 1,740 crimes were reported from May 2006 to February 2007. After the program began last year until this February, the overall crime number dipped to 1,293. That's a 26% reduction.

"What I've seen is more awareness by apartment managers and what they can do to make their apartment complexes safer, and what they can do to involved their tenants," said Thaler.

While the program over all is seen as successful, there were some apartment complexes where the crime rate actually increased. The city admits lowering apartment crime is an ongoing challenge, but they're working with local and state officials to try and improve upon so more people have Loretta Brown's experience.

"Since I've been here, I haven't seen much going on," said Brown.

Lawmakers in Austin are also working legislation to address apartment safety from a structural point so that apartments are built more safely from the start.

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