Mayoral candidates get fired up over city's crime rate

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston's mayoral Debate on Wednesday was a moment for the hopefuls took turns discussing their vision of how to help the city.

At one point, the city's crime rate took center stage.

Houston's current mayor, Sylvester Turner, argued that the city's crime rate is low, but his opponents said otherwise.

"When you have a mayor who wants to rely on stale FBI statistics, I know where those came from," Tony Buzbee said. "There's 23,000 documented gang members in the city of Houston. Even this Mayor's police chief says we have an ongoing gang war in the city of Houston. We should be talking about this and doing something about it."

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Five candidates answered questions on subjects ranging from crime, the city budget, and they outlined their proposed priorities for the next four years.

Although burglaries were down from 17,108 in 2017 to 16,317 in 2018, Sue Lovell proposed that as mayor she would add more policing in neighborhoods.

"The only time I see any police officers come through my neighborhood is when they're going from one place to another," Lovell said. "My idea of good policing to keep crime down is to have police officers in your neighborhood doing neighborhood policing, police that you know and you can talk to."

Candidate Bill King, who said he's been tracking the crime stats since 2000, claims that violent crime is up.

A 2018 FBI crime report showed a slight increase in violent crime rates overall, but murders and rapes were down year to year.

Another candidate, Dwight Boykins, later took a jab at Turner while also trying to sympathize with victims affected by violent acts.

"You tell those family members that have lost a loved due to crime that those stats are down. As mayor of the city, one thing I can promise you, I would never respond to that question and brag that the numbers are down," Boykins said.
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