Murders in Houston on track to hit 5-year high

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Alarming new statistics shows murders in Houston are up 37 percent this year.

There have already been 178 homicides in 2020 compared to 140 in 2019.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said if the numbers continue on their current trend, it will be a five-year high.

The number of murders spiked right after the 'Stay Home, Work Safe' order was issued. Murders classified as domestic violence are down, while Acevedo said drug-related homicides are up.

The chief said there is concern specifically in southeast Houston because of gangs and drug trafficking.

"In 2017, we had a significant reduction in murders, almost 11 percent," Acevedo told ABC13 on Wednesday. "In 2018, we were flat. In 2019, we had a slight uptick, and in 2020 we have a five-year high if we continue this way."

He attributes the decrease in 2017 to the addition of the major assaults unit.

"If someone was shot in our city, unless you died, detectives didn't roll, so we created a major assaults unit that had an impact," said Acevedo. "A lot of folks were being arrested on behalf of those investigative efforts before they hurt someone else."

READ ALSO: Family demands answers after son found shot to death, burned in north Houston

Some suggest bail reform is playing a role in the increase in homicides.

"At the end of the day, when we see people going in one door and out the other door and recommitting violent crimes while they are out on bond, that is a problem we need to look at," Acevedo said.

Andy Kahan, a victim's right advocate with Crime Stoppers, said it is frustrating to have to tell families that their loved ones were killed by someone who previously committed a violent crime and out on bail.

"We do support misdemeanor bond reform, make no ifs, ands or buts about that," Kahan said. "What we do not support is what we are seeing right now, which is felony offenders who are repeatedly being granted bonds to re-offend time and time again."

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