One Safe Houston: City's homicide rate down 3% compared to this time in 2021

Brooke Taylor Image
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Homicide rate down slightly, but HPD records reveal another problem
"It is working. It is effective. It is having an impact and the numbers speak for themselves. If it's one crime, if one person is involved in one crime or one life is lost, that's one too many so let me underscore that," the mayor said.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Nearly four months after announcing a $45 million initiative to combat crime in Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the homicide rate year-to-date has dropped for the first time in months.

However, the drop is just five fewer homicides than in 2021, a 3% decrease.

As of May 31, there have been 187 homicides year to date in Houston. This time last year, Houston had 192 homicides.

"It is working. It is effective. It is having an impact and the numbers speak for themselves," Turner said. "If it's one crime, if one person is involved in one crime or one life is lost, that's one too many so let me underscore that."

In February, Turner stood on the same podium with Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, announcing One Safe Houston, a program pouring millions of dollars into the city to try to fight crime.

While the homicide rate has slightly gone down compared to 2021, HPD records reveal staffing issues are causing response times to take longer than they should.

"Response times are always a priority for us," HPD Executive Assistant Chief Matt Slinkard said.

According to Slinkard, the department's goal is to respond to the most threatening calls, or priority one calls, within five minutes. However, the most recent records reveal it took officers six minutes and 17 seconds to respond to priority one calls in April, which is longer than what the department aims for.

"That does have to do with staffing," Slinkard said.

One Safe Houston allocates $5.7 million to increasing overtime for HPD. An additional 125 officers on overtime were added to the streets per day in hot spots throughout the community.

Watch: ABC13's Brooke Taylor goes in-depth on questioning HPD about crime initiative and homicide numbers

Nearly four months after announcing a multi-million dollar initiative to combat crime, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a drop in homicide rates.

In February, when ABC13 questioned Finner on how he can guarantee this, he assured us this wouldn't be an issue. Four months later, during a press conference, the department said there are "ebbs and flows."

"You say it's going well, but members within the police department have told us that they're not reaching that number," ABC13 reporter Brooke Taylor said.

"Every day, you may have ebbs and flows in that number, but our goal is always 125 additional," Slinkard said. "I will tell you, officers are tired, and sometimes being ordered to work additional hours is difficult."

Finner has said added cadet classes will help bring more officers in, but records reveal the shrinking department continues to have trouble keeping up with retirements.

Turner said the program, just months in, is still bringing results.

"Despite all of those challenges, the homicide rate is below where it was a year ago," Turner said.

He added that domestic violence compared to last year is up about 40%. The program allocates $13 million for domestic and sexual abuse responses.

While there have been slight improvements, officials recognize that four months is not nearly enough time to put a dent in reducing crime in the city.

ABC13 will continue to track its progress. One Safe Houston allocates $1 million for a robust Gun Buyback initiative, a voluntary incentive for people to donate their firearms or illegal guns off the streets. Mayor Turner said this will begin in July.

For updates on this story, follow Brooke Taylor on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.