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Being skeptical on 3% drop in COH homicide rate


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My skeptic radar went off first at. Media coverage showing Mayor Turner and Chief Finner being hosted at White House over the positive impact of ONE. SAFE. HOUSTON.

That. Wasn’t the message I  was receiving at the kazillion HPD meetings I Attended —- it seemed HPD used the continuing uptick in crime as a reason fewer Patrols would be coming into my neighborhood. That message of “ over worked,understaffed HPD” continued and continued and. Continued …….

Now all our local media jumps on 3% decrease…….not a word or heads up from any speaker at any of these HPD community  meetings. 

The. Skepticism came hard as later in same TV Broadcast; two murders reported.

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4 hours ago, trymahjong said:

My skeptic radar went off first at. Media coverage showing Mayor Turner and Chief Finner being hosted at White House over the positive impact of ONE. SAFE. HOUSTON.

That. Wasn’t the message I  was receiving at the kazillion HPD meetings I Attended —- it seemed HPD used the continuing uptick in crime as a reason fewer Patrols would be coming into my neighborhood. That message of “ over worked,understaffed HPD” continued and continued and. Continued …….

Now all our local media jumps on 3% decrease…….not a word or heads up from any speaker at any of these HPD community  meetings. 

The. Skepticism came hard as later in same TV Broadcast; two murders reported.

Fake news is real my friend.

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7 hours ago, august948 said:

Fake news is real my friend.

Well, in fairness, the 3% decrease in the homicide rate is either real or not, and shouldn't be subject to debate, wouldn't you agree?

The OP stated that his personal experience does not jibe with the claim.

Even though his personal experiences may not jibe with the claim, that doesn't automatically mean it's "fake news," correct?

The Mayor's press release states:

May 31, 2022 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston Police Department announced today that for the first time in more than a year, Houston’s homicide rate is showing a decline. As of today, there is an unofficial number of 187 homicides in Houston thus far in 2022 compared to 192 homicides at this time last year.

The nearly 3% decline in the city's homicide rate is an indication of the efficacy of the One Safe Houston initiative, a comprehensive public safety plan aimed at holistically addressing and in some cases rebuilding the public safety ecosystem in Houston.

https://www.houstontx.gov/mayor/press/2022/decrease-homicide-rates.html#:~:text=The nearly 3% decline in,public safety ecosystem in Houston.

If the 187 is accurate and the 192 is accurate, then the "nearly 3%" is accurate.

One could argue, wow, only 5 fewer murders, are you kidding me?  Perfectly valid.

One could argue, wow, only a 3% reduction, why don't you call me when you hit 10%?  Also valid.

Or one could just say, "192 murders in 5 months?!  That seems like it's still a pretty big problem, so why are you tooting your own horn?"  That seems to jibe with @trymahjong's observation.

But for it to be "fake news," either the 187 would have to be inaccurate or the 192 would have to be inaccurate.  Or both.  Or the "nearly 3%" calculation.

What is your claim, Augie?

For me, as a resident of the City of Houston, I have obviously not been murdered, don't know anyone else who has been murdered, don't know anyone who knows anyone who has been murdered or attempted murdered, can't say I've seen anything close to one transpiring, and, for that reason, I don't feel any less safe than I did 5 years ago.  If that experience changes next week, well I'm sure my opinion will change.  There may be stories from time to time on the local news with really, really bad and really, really sad circumstances for murder, but it's been that way my whole life.  Not trying to discount the murders here, all murders are of course bad, but I would argue sensationalizing it without context is as well, especially for political reasons.  If @trymahjong has personal and pervasive experiences as a victim of crime, well it totally makes sense to me that he would think 3% is nothing to write home about and is a waste of time and that it would be overtly political to advertise such “small potatoes.” 

 

Edited by mattyt36
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I attend ( maybe 2x a month, every month for 12 years) community liaison meeting hosted by HPD.

Each of those meetings has a segment reviewing the previous months crime rate. The locations and types of crime are discussed.

so IMO hearing that the crime rate is increasing at one of those meetings will make me skeptical that Mayor Turners plan is working.

yes stats are stats

But a News broadcast highlighting a 3% drop in crime rate then reporting 2 murders later in that broadcast...... does make me a bit skeptical.

 

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50 minutes ago, trymahjong said:

I attend ( maybe 2x a month, every month for 12 years) community liaison meeting hosted by HPD.

Each of those meetings has a segment reviewing the previous months crime rate. The locations and types of crime are discussed.

so IMO hearing that the crime rate is increasing at one of those meetings will make me skeptical that Mayor Turners plan is working.

yes stats are stats

But a News broadcast highlighting a 3% drop in crime rate then reporting 2 murders later in that broadcast...... does make me a bit skeptical.

 

The numbers they are advertising are a 3% drop in the HOMICIDE rate, which of course is a subset of the CRIME rate. So one can go down while the other is going up. (Although they do mention drops in 3 other categories—robberies, rapes, and aggravated assaults.)

I’m sure you know that, and I’m not trying to split hairs, I just think that if people in this country could agree on basic facts again, it’d move the ball down the field at least a couple yards.

Feeling “safe” is definitely based in large part on perception. And if one spends a lot of time at HPD meetings going over crime statistics (which I’m not criticizing in any way … perhaps you’re a business owner in a particularly affected area or, especially, have been directly affected yourself), it wouldn’t surprise me if they would leave you feeling less safe. That goes for me, too. I think I’m happier not knowing, to be honest. People told me for years to stop watching the news, and I finally did, and I think my life is at the very least marginally better for it. 

Regardless, from a statistical perspective I’d say a 3% drop is probably insignificant. (The other statistics seem MUCH more material.). I certainly wouldn’t put a press release out about it, or expect to get feted in Washington. And any link between that insignificant number and a program is, if course, subjective. 

All of the above said, is what you describe a feeling or do you believe the statistics are being falsified?  Or perhaps in your neighborhood they’re still going up while going down elsewhere? There’s of course a big difference between these 3 statements.

Anyhoo, here’s to hoping by the end of the year the 3% reduction somehow becomes a 10% reduction and the crime rate in total comes down as well.

 

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9 hours ago, mattyt36 said:

Well, in fairness, the 3% decrease in the homicide rate is either real or not, and shouldn't be subject to debate, wouldn't you agree?

The OP stated that his personal experience does not jibe with the claim.

Even though his personal experiences may not jibe with the claim, that doesn't automatically mean it's "fake news," correct?

The Mayor's press release states:

May 31, 2022 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston Police Department announced today that for the first time in more than a year, Houston’s homicide rate is showing a decline. As of today, there is an unofficial number of 187 homicides in Houston thus far in 2022 compared to 192 homicides at this time last year.

The nearly 3% decline in the city's homicide rate is an indication of the efficacy of the One Safe Houston initiative, a comprehensive public safety plan aimed at holistically addressing and in some cases rebuilding the public safety ecosystem in Houston.

https://www.houstontx.gov/mayor/press/2022/decrease-homicide-rates.html#:~:text=The nearly 3% decline in,public safety ecosystem in Houston.

If the 187 is accurate and the 192 is accurate, then the "nearly 3%" is accurate.

One could argue, wow, only 5 fewer murders, are you kidding me?  Perfectly valid.

One could argue, wow, only a 3% reduction, why don't you call me when you hit 10%?  Also valid.

Or one could just say, "192 murders in 5 months?!  That seems like it's still a pretty big problem, so why are you tooting your own horn?"  That seems to jibe with @trymahjong's observation.

But for it to be "fake news," either the 187 would have to be inaccurate or the 192 would have to be inaccurate.  Or both.  Or the "nearly 3%" calculation.

What is your claim, Augie?

For me, as a resident of the City of Houston, I have obviously not been murdered, don't know anyone else who has been murdered, don't know anyone who knows anyone who has been murdered or attempted murdered, can't say I've seen anything close to one transpiring, and, for that reason, I don't feel any less safe than I did 5 years ago.  If that experience changes next week, well I'm sure my opinion will change.  There may be stories from time to time on the local news with really, really bad and really, really sad circumstances for murder, but it's been that way my whole life.  Not trying to discount the murders here, all murders are of course bad, but I would argue sensationalizing it without context is as well, especially for political reasons.  If @trymahjong has personal and pervasive experiences as a victim of crime, well it totally makes sense to me that he would think 3% is nothing to write home about and is a waste of time and that it would be overtly political to advertise such “small potatoes.” 

 

This...

Quote

The nearly 3% decline in the city's homicide rate is an indication of the efficacy of the One Safe Houston initiative, a comprehensive public safety plan aimed at holistically addressing and in some cases rebuilding the public safety ecosystem in Houston.

I'm choosing to regard this as something along the lines of propaganda.  A drop of 5 over a 5 month period smacks of selective use of statistics.

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Oh my……..I guess it’s all about my skepticism.
perhaps a bit of context: 

what I posted  in February concerning the Mayors plan to address 103% increase in crime.

=>some parts of this speech are things I have always thought important=> supporting/improving mental health programs.

=>However, I have been involved in the HPD monthly community outreach program since 2006. I am only an observer

=>whohas been on the receivers end of countless explanations on the causes of crimes increases or decreases. A common

=>thread through all this has been the lack of physical bodies on the streets. Time and time again it was hammered in that

=>Houston was the  largest city with the smallest police force. Always the explanation for the low number of HPD officers was money. 
 

=>Now Mayor Turner brings $44 million up……..$44 million to fight crime……..but very little said about monies to provide

=>extensive hiring to up the  number of new officers actually on the street.

=>I am left puzzled.
 

So,  being told ‘small police force is biggest reason Crime  keeps increasing’ is constantly fed to attendees at the community meetings. There is very little said about alternative means of combating  rising crime rates. YES, there are different speakers from HPD, that explain how illegal dumping is dealt with or ID fraud is dealt with or kicking down doors robbery is dealt with———-BUT through all that …..the laser focus of a small police force, being slowly overwhelmed is kePt front and center.

Mayor Turners proposal must have been weeks or months in the making. Content at these meetings, (those community meetings ,whose goal is transparency and building trust with community) could have at least hinted at alternative approaches to fighting the crime increase. Mayor Turners 44 million, might have hired more officers, but instead chose  to increase time on street by officers currently employed. The content of Mayor Turners proposal, just seemed totally misaligned with whatHPD had focused on during those meetings. That did indeed puzzle me.

Those monthly HPD community  meetings continue, crime rates increase, a pie chart ( shown at each meeting) indicates  types of crime and what percentage of the entire crime rate - each crime is assigned. This allows attendees to see homicides as a different part of pie chart than say- robbery.
Suddenly, that same month, all news stations announce 3% drop in homicides. Memory reminds me, those pie charts didn’t seem to indicate that, but maybe rates were being daily monitored by Mayoral staff and bingo- the rate reduced suddenly  by 3% and press release was issued.

My skepticism bells go off. $44 million spent since February and sudden 3% decrease announced, 3 weeks after community meeting.What could add to my skepticism? Just after news anchor announces crime decrease ( remember this is very small number- maybe  7 homicides  less) two new murders are discussed. That seems a razors edge; as far as spotlighting homicide decrease. I ask myself, why didn’t the PR announcement wait till it was a 5% decrease?

 

BTW, I go to these HPD meetings to gain information and  insight that I can bring back to my Montrose neighborhood.I view that as  bringing “ tools”- my neighbors can work with to  promote anti crime measures and support safety in our neighborhood. My own neighborhood, Avondale has transitioned and evolved quite a bit since 2006 in terms of crime and safety. IMO,  me foregoing attendance at these HPD meetings will not translate into feeling safer in my neighborhood.

I have found that, If you want change, you have to work for it. IMO, getting changes to happen  doesnt come from emailing or phone calls.You go to community meetings offered by police. You get to know the officers. You invite them to speak at your civic club. You become a somewhat familiar face of neighborhood concerns about safety. Slowly, very slowly change does happen. You think you get insight into HPD, you begin trusting in what is presented to you by HPD.

I was skeptical at those 2 events then  a bit of self clarity, opened up to me that, after all these years participating- particularly after the Mayors Safe Houston  initiative was handled in its presentation to those meetings plus the way the announcement of the 3% decrease  in homicide was presented, that the  trust that HPD cultivated during all those years…… was eroding?

 

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On 6/1/2022 at 7:26 AM, trymahjong said:

My skeptic radar went off first at. Media coverage showing Mayor Turner and Chief Finner being hosted at White House over the positive impact of ONE. SAFE. HOUSTON.

That. Wasn’t the message I  was receiving at the kazillion HPD meetings I Attended —- it seemed HPD used the continuing uptick in crime as a reason fewer Patrols would be coming into my neighborhood. That message of “ over worked,understaffed HPD” continued and continued and. Continued …….

Now all our local media jumps on 3% decrease…….not a word or heads up from any speaker at any of these HPD community  meetings. 

The. Skepticism came hard as later in same TV Broadcast; two murders reported.

Over the last 20 years, it hasn't been uncommon for annual homicides to fluctuate up or down by as much as 60 from year to year, so 5 fewer homicides in the first half of 2022 vs 2021 is meaningless. It's almost as meaningless as the "skyrocketing" homicide rate the local media was reporting earlier this year because January 2022 homicides were higher than January 2021 homicides. Trying to parse out a month or 3 or 6 months out of a year and compare it to the same months in the previous  year to reach a conclusion about where the homicide rate is going is pointless. Show me a steady increase or decline over at least three full years, and then we'll talk. 

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1 hour ago, Reefmonkey said:

It's almost as meaningless as the "skyrocketing" homicide rate the local media was reporting earlier this year because January 2022 homicides were higher than January 2021 homicides.

As the old journalism/broadcasting saying goes, "if it bleeds, it leads". 

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On 6/2/2022 at 2:49 AM, august948 said:

This...

I'm choosing to regard this as something along the lines of propaganda.  A drop of 5 over a 5 month period smacks of selective use of statistics.

I'd say it's pretty much a standard press release.  Hell, they didn't even say it was directly responsible, which is arguably an improvement over most press releases from even the private sector.  (You should read the "hot off the presses" United press release this week on its new amenity kits, and then see how many "news" outlets regurgitated the content with the same aplomb.  Boy did it make a free tube of Chap Stick seem like way more than it actually is!)

The nearly 3% decline in the city's homicide rate is an indication of the efficacy of the One Safe Houston initiative, a comprehensive public safety plan aimed at holistically addressing and in some cases rebuilding the public safety ecosystem in Houston.

I don't think they're playing any games with the time period, either.  It's not February-May, or second week of March-third week of May.  It's from the beginning of the year to the most recently available month.  (I've already said my piece on the 5 being insignificant, although it does seem the drop in other types of crimes may be way more material.)   

That said, I'd still say calling it "fake news" is a bit dramatic.  

On 6/2/2022 at 8:57 AM, trymahjong said:

My skepticism bells go off. $44 million spent since February and sudden 3% decrease announced, 3 weeks after community meeting.What could add to my skepticism? Just after news anchor announces crime decrease ( remember this is very small number- maybe  7 homicides  less) two new murders are discussed. That seems a razors edge; as far as spotlighting homicide decrease. I ask myself, why didn’t the PR announcement wait till it was a 5% decrease?

Perfectly understandable.  (Although I must point out that 187 murders over 151 days equals an average of 1.24 murders/day by my calculation, and since you can't commit a quarter of a murder, that means on some days it's 1 and some days it's 2, some bad days it may be 5, and I'm sure there are several days with none, so I wouldn't say that 2 murders in one day in and of itself disproves the statistic being quoted.)

On 6/2/2022 at 8:57 AM, trymahjong said:

BTW, I go to these HPD meetings to gain information and  insight that I can bring back to my Montrose neighborhood.I view that as  bringing “ tools”- my neighbors can work with to  promote anti crime measures and support safety in our neighborhood. My own neighborhood, Avondale has transitioned and evolved quite a bit since 2006 in terms of crime and safety. IMO,  me foregoing attendance at these HPD meetings will not translate into feeling safer in my neighborhood.

To each their own!  I certainly am in no place to lecture someone who has invested so much time over the past 15+ years.  I'd say your feelings on the matter are definitely worth more than mine.

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9 hours ago, mattyt36 said:

And I find myself again not feeling any more or less safe, and I question why anyone would feel any differently.

Just adding relevant content. As a big city, I think Houston does pretty good with crime; especially compared to other big cities. However, there's always room for improvement, even saving 1 life is an improvement. I might feel safe most of the time, but all it takes is one unsafe moment. IMO, the main issue we need to work on is the bail bond system. 

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I am acquainted with the notion, that statistics on crime go up and down; still wondering what made 3% decrease in crime so attractive to Mayors staff that PR release was issued in the first place. It was releasing that stat that set off my skepticism in the first place.

 

for any who are curious to the content of those ongoing HPD community meetings and how “ the perception of safety” is set up.

google HPD Positive Interaction Police Program for background.

HPD Central 1&2 Division meeting  first Monday each Month- 1602 State Street 7 pm 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, trymahjong said:

I again and wondering what made 3% decrease in crime so attractive to Mayors staff that a PR release was issued in the first place

They wanted to jump on it in case the 3% went away?

Turner might be looking to run for something else once his term comes to an end and the Democrats have aligned themselves nationally with higher crime rates, looting, burning, riots and defunding the police and have been trying to walk it back.  Thus Turner and Finner meeting with Biden recently.  It's not about lowering the crime rate, it's about party politics.

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2 hours ago, august948 said:

They wanted to jump on it in case the 3% went away?

Turner might be looking to run for something else once his term comes to an end and the Democrats have aligned themselves nationally with higher crime rates, looting, burning, riots and defunding the police and have been trying to walk it back.  Thus Turner and Finner meeting with Biden recently.  It's not about lowering the crime rate, it's about party politics.

You see, now, Augie, this, I would say, is way more in the spirit of "fake news."  More like, "The Republican propaganda networks have aligned the Democrats nationally with higher crime rates, looting, burning, riots, and defunding the police."

12 hours ago, Amlaham said:

I might feel safe most of the time, but all it takes is one unsafe moment.

Of course, but the question is, are you going to make material changes to your life or start attending meetings or obsessing about statistics to feel safer because the murder rate goes up or down a few ticks? 

Now I will say, the only (well visible) crime that I encounter on a regular basis and that seems to have increased greatly is vehicle theft, just tons of broken glass in and around the streets and lots surrounding Buffalo Bayou Park.  You'd think if it were that localized HPD could set something up, but I guess not. 

2 hours ago, trymahjong said:

still wondering what made 3% decrease in crime so attractive to Mayors staff that PR release was issued in the first place. 

Maybe you can ask them at your next meeting?

Edited by mattyt36
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56 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

You see, now, Augie, this, I would say, is way more in the spirit of "fake news."  More like, "The Republican propaganda networks have aligned the Democrats nationally with higher crime rates, looting, burning, riots, and defunding the police."

Of course, but the question is, are you going to make material changes to your life or start attending meetings or obsessing about statistics to feel safer because the murder rate goes up or down a few ticks? 

Now I will say, the only (well visible) crime that I encounter on a regular basis and that seems to have increased greatly is vehicle theft, just tons of broken glass in and around the streets and lots surrounding Buffalo Bayou Park.  You'd think if it were that localized HPD could set something up, but I guess not. 

Maybe you can ask them at your next meeting?

Im not obsessing over the statistics or thinking about my self, I'm thinking about the innocent people who lost their lives to repeat offenders. Recently one downtown bond company was raided by the FBI (I'm sure you've read it), bond companies setting bonds as low as 1% for violent offenders... more could be done on that part. 

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3 hours ago, Amlaham said:

Im not obsessing over the statistics or thinking about my self

Not saying you are--what I said was if there were fluctuations in crime rates from time to time (assuming you or no one you knew was not directly affected) would you change your behavior?  I think you've pretty much confirmed here the answer is no, which is what I and probably 99% of people do (if you exclude from doing something about it bellyaching and blaming Democrats, of course . . . this is the boilerplate response for a good chunk of the population, for which there is plenty of evidence in this thread).

One is either murdered by one someone knows or it's entirely random.  There's not much people can do to counteract the random except avoid places in which random shootings are, well, not that random in occurrence.  Oh, and Augie will insist, arm one's self.  I've stated my opinion earlier that going to biweekly meetings about crime for 15+ years to somehow feel better about it just doesn't make much sense to me, but I understand there are different perspectives. 

3 hours ago, Amlaham said:

I'm thinking about the innocent people who lost their lives to repeat offenders. 

Yes, another thing everyone can agree on.  Innocent people being victims of crime is bad.  On this note, however, we've heard a lot about repeat offenders.  I have yet to see any statistics, however, linking any of the increase in crime to repeat offenders.  In my sense it's an empty observation.  "Oh, have you seen crime has gone up?  Can you believe that a lot of these crimes are done by repeat offenders?  Why aren't we do something about repeat offenders?"  Seems like a conversation that could've taken place in 1954, 1982, or 2022.  Why?  Because it's pretty much a truism.  Repeat offenders, er, repeat offend.  Quelle surprise.

Now I know the Harris County Republican Party is trying to link that to changes in bail requirements under the Hidalgo administration . . . I mean something like that should not be subject to debate.  It either is a major, major increase in crimes being caused by repeat offenders or there are other contributors.  Remember, repeat offenders have been repeat offending since the beginning of history . . . also, remember, there is a balance to be struck in designing an entire criminal justice system around the maybe 0.5% of repeat offenders who end up killing someone upon release and the others who do not (although these days I think there are plenty of Americans who think criminals should just be locked up for life, regardless . . . well, criminals of a certain demographic if we're honest).  I'm a bit "skeptical" (as @trymahjong would say) because (1) it is so overtly political; and (2) there has been a nationwide increase in crime since the pandemic.  It seems as if this question were actually answered--not in awful anecdotes or tragic news stories or political fingerpointing--maybe we could get somewhere.  Instead (sadly), the typical response is one like @august948's . . . "Well, a Democrat is in charge, so you should just expect looting, rape, murders, and pillaging cuz the Democrats love the criminals."  (I mean, this is just such a TIRED, TIRED trope, but I guess not for some. Moreover, he somehow makes these comments unironically while complaining about Turner being too political, BUT I DIGRESS.) 

If I've missed anything in the local media, please share so I can be educated about it.

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4 hours ago, mattyt36 said:

You see, now, Augie, this, I would say, is way more in the spirit of "fake news."  More like, "The Republican propaganda networks have aligned the Democrats nationally with higher crime rates, looting, burning, riots, and defunding the police."

Of course, but the question is, are you going to make material changes to your life or start attending meetings or obsessing about statistics to feel safer because the murder rate goes up or down a few ticks? 

Now I will say, the only (well visible) crime that I encounter on a regular basis and that seems to have increased greatly is vehicle theft, just tons of broken glass in and around the streets and lots surrounding Buffalo Bayou Park.  You'd think if it were that localized HPD could set something up, but I guess not. 

Maybe you can ask them at your next meeting?

And the Democratic propaganda networks have largely ignored or tried to explain it away.  I'm not surprised, mind you, that's what these organizations do, right and left.  That fact doesn't make it, or parts of it, not true. 

But, we see the mayor jumping on a 3% decrease over a five month period and the question comes up as to "why now".  I've been poking around the HPD page and haven't been able to verify the stats the mayor put out.  I suspect, but wanted to verify first hand, that the press release was held in waiting for a drop that they could pounce on.  And pounce they did.  Perhaps I missed it, but is it normal for the mayor to put out a press release any time the murder rate drops by a few percentage points?  If not, why would he do so now?  Why would a professional politician do such a thing?  I wonder. 

Quelle surprise indeed.

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1 hour ago, august948 said:

And the Democratic propaganda networks have largely ignored or tried to explain it away.

Have they? Enlighten me.

1 hour ago, august948 said:

That fact doesn't make it, or parts of it, not true. 

Likewise, it doesn’t make it true, so let’s stop with the hollow and circular logic and just speak directly and to the point.

1 hour ago, august948 said:

But, we see the mayor jumping on a 3% decrease over a five month period and the question comes up as to "why now".  I've been poking around the HPD page and haven't been able to verify the stats the mayor put out.  I suspect, but wanted to verify first hand, that the press release was held in waiting for a drop that they could pounce on.  And pounce they did.  Perhaps I missed it, but is it normal for the mayor to put out a press release any time the murder rate drops by a few percentage points?  If not, why would he do so now?  Why would a professional politician do such a thing?  I wonder. 

Quelle surprise indeed.

So, at the end of the day this isn’t about the statistics (reminder … there were other statistics quoted in the release that had numbers well above 3%) whether they’re factual as stated or not, it’s about a press release, which almost by definition is pure puffery.

Bellyaching and blaming Democrats, indeed.

I do think it’s worth pointing out that no one on this thread, myself included, think that putting out a press release for a 3% reduction in the murder rate is warranted. But I also don’t think it’s sinister or disingenuous or “fake news” as others on here seem to. Puffery, sure, but you guys are supposed to love puffery. You voted its spirit animal into office for President of the United States in 2016.

Maybe we should change the title of the thread to “Mayoral Press Release: Silly or Not Silly?” because at the end of the day that seems to be the thrust of our discussion.

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If Houston starts at a baseline of: => Yes Violent crime is increasing…

Then does the question become how best to fight the increase? It seems COH believes the answer lies within “ early intervention as noted in Safe Houston program” HPD puts forth “ more bodies on the streets “ as the solution. Hard to assess one solution over the other unless police force gets many new recruits.   Still surely, a significant decrease (more that 3%) would appear and maintain that decrease over months time, if “SaveHouston” was really having a significant impact.

so IMO, if Safe Houston program doesn’t  begin to have the impact necessary to lower violent crime…when should that program be scrapped  ?    When should COH bite the bullet and hire, hire, hire? Finding the funding the same way funding was found for Save Houston—— no excuse—-just finding the funds. Yes- I think the funds are there.

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On 6/11/2022 at 9:05 AM, trymahjong said:

Then does the question become how best to fight the increase?

There doesn't seem to be an easy solution, or it would already be solved. 

My 2¢: Employment, employment, employment.  People who have to get up for work tomorrow aren't hanging around the night before causing trouble.  There is no end to low-end jobs the City of Houston can employ people in, as long as those jobs pay enough.  Half of the city's pools are closed this summer because there aren't enough lifeguards.  There's trash everywhere.  Potholes, graffiti, and a dozen other things that can be taken care of with unskilled and semi-skilled labor. 

The excuse is always, "Well, who's going to pay for all those new part-time city workers?"   You have to stop thinking about funding this in traditional ways.  Pay for it with some of the millions of federal and local dollars used to fight crime, because it is a means of both fighting crime, and improving the city.    Pay for it with some of the billions of federal infrastructure finds, because at least some of this is infrastructure-related.  Pay for it with the gas tax, because it's improving the roads and bridges.  Require city contractors at every level from construction to accountants to hire 1 or 2 low-income kids as apprentices or interns. 

Youth employment programs have fallen out of fashion.  But they work.  They expose people with too much free time on their hands to the responsibilities and rewards of work.  And a percentage of those people will build on their experience and improve their lives.  "You wanna work for my construction company? What experience do you have?"  "Well, I filled potholes and drove a front-end loader for the city for a couple of summers."  "You're hired!"

 

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Mayor Turners program seems a bit similar to what you suggest, but COH hasn’t tried to hire a police force the size of other big cites with our population, at least since 2005. I guess, I would think increasing police force might be a solution after all.

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22 hours ago, trymahjong said:

Mayor Turners program seems a bit similar to what you suggest, but COH hasn’t tried to hire a police force the size of other big cites with our population, at least since 2005. I guess, I would think increasing police force might be a solution after all.

You're right.  Employment isn't the only answer.  I'm not sure Houston needs more police officers, but the ones we have certainly should be more effectively used.

When I moved to Houston the first time, and again this time, it was hard to get used to seeing so many police officers around in everyday life.  Everywhere else I've lived, you only see police in bad neighborhoods. They're a sign that there's a crime problem.  In Houston, people see a visible police presence as a sign that there isn't crime.  Which is the opposite of what I, and a lot of outlanders I talk to, are used to.   See a cop at a mall in Wisconsin?  Must be a ghetto mall.  See a cop at the Galleria in Houston?  Yay! We're all safe!  I don't know if this is unique to Houston, or it's a regional thing, but it's a weird boomerang.

I'd like to see cities go back to trying what used to be called Community Oriented Policing.  This was a minor fad that started in the early 90's in a few cities, but failed to take off.  The crux of it was to get the cops out of the cars, and put them on the streets where they can see what's going on, and interact with ordinary people, and be in touch with their communities.  I suspect that's the problem: It brought back the notion of a "beat" cop that patrolled a particular area of town.  That gets expensive quick.  But the studies that prompted the movement stated that it worked.  I don't think it would fully work in a city as horizontally vast as Houston, but it could certainly be used in certain areas.

As for whether Houston is under-policed, or over-policed, here are some numbers from the FBI:

Houston
Population: 2,344,966
Law enforcement employees: 6,258 (total) - 5,229 (officers - 1,029 (civilians)
One officer for every 448 citizens

Largest cities in America (Places with a higher ratio than Houston in purple, lower ratio in cyan):

  • New York: One officer for every 236 citizens
  • Los Angeles: One officer for every 404 citizens
  • Chicago: One officer for every 207 citizens
  • Phoenix: One officer for every 566 citizens
  • Philadelphia: One officer for every 241 citizens
  • San Antonio: One officer for every 654 citizens
  • San Diego: One officer for every 830 citizens
  • Dallas: One officer for every 453 citizens
  • San Jose: One officer for every 941 citizens
  • Austin: One officer for every 526 citizens

 

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Oh my

 

i seem to on the receiving end of what HPD  PR feeds during the community meetings. At many many meetings, HPD states that the Houston is the smallest police force “ size “ for the largest population.

I notice NY and Chicago have almost twice as many officers, which is what I thought would be the case as it was presented by HPD.  LA surprised me that the numbers are so close.

About seeing so many police on the streets……my hometown is Oklahoma City ( lived there till the70’s), police cars seemed to be everywhere. I didn’t associate the notion of more cops , more crime.

Then about that “community oriented policing” would HPD bicycle corp or mounted police fit into that? I know that the bike corp goes out a lot in south Central and Central 1&2- but the heat during the summer gets bad enough that patrols are put on hold. The mounted patrol use to  be out quite a bit in midtown andMontrose but I guess (maybe) the big accident during Pride Parade (10 years or so ago) might have played a part in why the patrol isn’t on the streets as much.

I like the the idea of a “Beat “ patrol and always thought of the neighborhood HPD storefronts that way. I was so very disappointed that Acevedo turned down Randoms development off of a replacement HPD replacement with in the Montrose Collective.

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9 hours ago, editor said:

You're right.  Employment isn't the only answer.  I'm not sure Houston needs more police officers, but the ones we have certainly should be more effectively used.

When I moved to Houston the first time, and again this time, it was hard to get used to seeing so many police officers around in everyday life.  Everywhere else I've lived, you only see police in bad neighborhoods. They're a sign that there's a crime problem.  In Houston, people see a visible police presence as a sign that there isn't crime.  Which is the opposite of what I, and a lot of outlanders I talk to, are used to.   See a cop at a mall in Wisconsin?  Must be a ghetto mall.  See a cop at the Galleria in Houston?  Yay! We're all safe!  I don't know if this is unique to Houston, or it's a regional thing, but it's a weird boomerang.

I'd like to see cities go back to trying what used to be called Community Oriented Policing.  This was a minor fad that started in the early 90's in a few cities, but failed to take off.  The crux of it was to get the cops out of the cars, and put them on the streets where they can see what's going on, and interact with ordinary people, and be in touch with their communities.  I suspect that's the problem: It brought back the notion of a "beat" cop that patrolled a particular area of town.  That gets expensive quick.  But the studies that prompted the movement stated that it worked.  I don't think it would fully work in a city as horizontally vast as Houston, but it could certainly be used in certain areas.

As for whether Houston is under-policed, or over-policed, here are some numbers from the FBI:

Houston
Population: 2,344,966
Law enforcement employees: 6,258 (total) - 5,229 (officers - 1,029 (civilians)
One officer for every 448 citizens

Largest cities in America (Places with a higher ratio than Houston in purple, lower ratio in cyan):

  • New York: One officer for every 236 citizens
  • Los Angeles: One officer for every 404 citizens
  • Chicago: One officer for every 207 citizens
  • Phoenix: One officer for every 566 citizens
  • Philadelphia: One officer for every 241 citizens
  • San Antonio: One officer for every 654 citizens
  • San Diego: One officer for every 830 citizens
  • Dallas: One officer for every 453 citizens
  • San Jose: One officer for every 941 citizens
  • Austin: One officer for every 526 citizens

 

The latest City budget has the number of patrol officers at around 3500. Some of those 5,229 officers are assigned to traffic, investigations, and other non-patrol functions. Basing the numbers on total employees is misleading, since some cities have their 911 operators in the police department, or have parking enforcement in the police department, etc.

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2 hours ago, Ross said:

The latest City budget has the number of patrol officers at around 3500. Some of those 5,229 officers are assigned to traffic, investigations, and other non-patrol functions. Basing the numbers on total employees is misleading, since some cities have their 911 operators in the police department, or have parking enforcement in the police department, etc.

I suspect the other cities’ police departments numbers also include non-patrol functions.  FWIW, no one suggested a comparison based on total employees.

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Perhaps the time has come forHouston to do a huge hiring of officers actually assigned to patrol duty. A number of police Per citizen somewhere between LA numbers Chicago numbers. Houston could “ bite the bullet” and find the money.

 

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14 minutes ago, trymahjong said:

Perhaps the time has come forHouston to do a huge hiring of officers actually assigned to patrol duty. A number of police Per citizen somewhere between LA numbers Chicago numbers. Houston could “ bite the bullet” and find the money.

 

Are LA and Chicago crime rates more to your liking than Houston's?

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1 hour ago, trymahjong said:

Perhaps the time has come forHouston to do a huge hiring of officers actually assigned to patrol duty. A number of police Per citizen somewhere between LA numbers Chicago numbers. Houston could “ bite the bullet” and find the money.

 

There is no money to find unless the revenue cap on property taxes is lifted. The HPD budget is almost a billion dollars. The budget for police and fire combined is more than property tax collections. Here's the General Fund Summary for the new fiscal year that starts on July 1 https://www.houstontx.gov/budget/23budprop/II_GFS.pdf

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15 hours ago, Ross said:

 Basing the numbers on total employees is misleading, since some cities have their 911 operators in the police department, or have parking enforcement in the police department, etc.

The numbers were based on officers, not total employees.  You can see the breakdown for each city by following the FBI link I posted.

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1 hour ago, mattyt36 said:

Are LA and Chicago crime rates more to your liking than Houston's?

A quick look up on city-data shows the following crime rates:

  • Houston: 522.8
  • Los Angeles: 337.2
  • Chicago: 433.2

So, yes, I suspect he does find LA and Chicago crime rates more to his liking.

Or were you trying to imply that there's less crime in Houston than Los Angeles and Chicago?

Sources:

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34 minutes ago, editor said:

A quick look up on city-data shows the following crime rates:

  • Houston: 522.8
  • Los Angeles: 337.2
  • Chicago: 433.2

So, yes, I suspect he does find LA and Chicago crime rates more to his liking.

Or were you trying to imply that there's less crime in Houston than Los Angeles and Chicago?

Sources:

Well a fine starting point for a conversation (and we’re 20+ posts in) would be what crimes are we exactly focusing on solving and where exactly, and what the exact “theory of the case” is for higher numbers of patrol officers in reducing these crimes (whatever and wherever they are). It seems that this whole thread started based on murder statistics. 
 

Not to mention your statistics beg an explanation there. I assume those are rates per some amount of population. But what exactly is in the numerator? Is it 523 “crimes” per 100K people? What kind of crimes?

It’s also always a good idea not to presume what people are thinking in an effort to win any sort of “gotcha” points and let him answer that very direct question for himself, dontcha think?

 

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2 hours ago, mattyt36 said:
2 hours ago, mattyt36 said:

Are LA and Chicago crime rates more to your liking than Houston's?

 

 

 

more to my liking?
Now, I’m puzzled. I may have been unclear before. HPD has stood on a platform of “smallest police force of largest city”

no matter what happens in reporting crime to the community meetings I attend for past 18 years- this is what HPD falls back on. I sit there and soak up all the HPD speak, month after month. It’s Houston’s crime rate that I’m interested in- that I copy down and send to my neighbors, that I post alerts about—— would a bigger police force help lower Houston crime? HPD has been lecturing me - that indeed it WOULD.

So— I decided to take a stand  in this thread and say— okay HPD— hire more beat type cops,, lots of them, maybe more than LA but less than Chicago. Let’s see what happens.

 

1 hour ago, Ross said:

There is no money to find unless the revenue cap on property taxes is lifted. The HPD budget is almost a billion dollars. The budget for police and fire combined is more than property tax collections. Here's the General Fund Summary for the new fiscal year that starts on July 1 https://www.houstontx.gov/budget/23budprop

 

IMO—- monies seem to be found - if Mayor Turner desires it.

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4 hours ago, trymahjong said:

Now, I’m puzzled. I may have been unclear before. HPD has stood on a platform of “smallest police force of largest city”

Yet, statistics have been shared to show that may not be the case.

4 hours ago, trymahjong said:

no matter what happens in reporting crime to the community meetings I attend for past 18 years- this is what HPD falls back on. I sit there and soak up all the HPD speak, month after month.

Why not marinate on that for a moment?  

4 hours ago, trymahjong said:

So— I decided to take a stand  in this thread and say— okay HPD— hire more beat type cops,, lots of them, maybe more than LA but less than Chicago. Let’s see what happens.

Sounds like a great way to make policy--solely based on the comments of an interest group (which they are) and gut reactions.  I mean, I still have no idea what crime we're talking about, just seems to be numbers from an ongoing 18-year-long meeting presented by cops who think the only answer is more cops.  So, from my perspective as far as this thread goes, my understanding of the crime situation in Houston surely hasn't been enhanced . . . again, from my perspective, you don't even seem to have a good handle on it yourself.  For the same reason (and I'm sorry to be blunt), based on what you've posted thus far, forgive me to be skeptical if I question whether you have anything more than a superficial understanding of police headcount and crime statistics (or municipal budgets in the State of Texas), nonetheless the specifics of LA or Chicago and how the increased headcount has led to less crime--I mean it's totally contrary to the stereotype of Chicago, Republicans straight out use "Chicago" as a synonym for "crime."  As presented, it's finger to the wind, let's just try adding more cops . . . WHY NOT? 

4 hours ago, trymahjong said:

IMO—- monies seem to be found - if Mayor Turner desires it.

Let me guess, the cops told you that, too?

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My goodness

 

Do I have a handle on the subject of crime? My thread started because I watch the crime statistics slide show every months and take home the booklet that shows crime events Street by street. So I am somewhat familiar with “crime” that directly affects me, my family and my part of town. “Police head count and crime statistics “  I’m in a room with dozens of cop of all ranks twice a month. The conversations are always about “police head counts and crime statistics. This isn’t a rarified atmosphere of collegiate researchers, but I am talking to patrol officers. These officers, bounce their opinions off other officers and “civilians “ as a participant you get a sense of what a shared opinion might be. I think that shared opinion is more cops are needed on the streets.

My post was a challenge to the Mayor for issuing a statement that conflicted with what HPD had been telling me. “What HPD has been telling me” IS where I get my information. BTW, my neighbors get their crime info from HPD also. It is a character building experience to be waylaid for admitting you trust the monthly crime information you get from police.

 

about “ getting the money to hire a kazillion new police officers.” ……..really it seems to me that if hiring lots of police were important- really important to Mayor Turner- the money would be found.

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1 hour ago, trymahjong said:

My goodness

 

Do I have a handle on the subject of crime? My thread started because I watch the crime statistics slide show every months and take home the booklet that shows crime events Street by street. So I am somewhat familiar with “crime” that directly affects me, my family and my part of town. “Police head count and crime statistics “  I’m in a room with dozens of cop of all racks twice a month. The conversations are always about “police head counts and crime statistics. This isn’t a rarified atmosphere of collegiate researchers, but I am talking to patrol officers. These officers, bounce their opinions off other officers and “civilians “ as a participant you get a sense of what a shared opinion might be. I think that shared opinion is more copy are needed on the streets.

My post was a challenge to the Mayor for issuing a statement that conflicted with what HPD had been telling me. “What HPD has been telling me” IS where I get my information. BTW, my neighbors get their crime info from HPD also. It is a character building experience to be waylaid for admitting you trust the monthly crime information you get from police.

 

about “ getting the money to hire a kazillion new police officers.” ……..really it seems to me that if hiring lots of police were important- really important to Mayor Turner- the money would be found.

Understood, and the above summary is appreciated.  I guess, at the end of the day, it's best described as a "vent" or "just throwing this idea out there."

I'm on here because I've learned a lot, there are some really awesome people on this forum who share their particular expertise.  You've been going to these meetings for almost 20 years.  We could all gain from what you have heard and your perspective as to why things have changed (~20 years in the same neighborhood in Houston going to the same meetings, man that's rarefied air!) and how you think things could be better.

Seriously, could you share that?  We don't all go to these meetings.  Or at least I don't.

Similarly, are you interested in any perspective as to how the City of Houston budget works?  Now that you have been presented evidence to the contrary, does it change your perception of the information that you've been presented? 

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Okay maybe I’m venting………venting at what though? 
 

hmmmm probably venting that Mayor Turner had the opportunity to have a positive effect on crime with that 44 million- but chose a route not promoted by his own police chief.

I was thinking about  concept of “expertise.
 

Attending all those PIP meeting didn’t make me an expert; anymore than being a parent for 43 years, would make me an expert on parenting. It’s more that being closely involved in something, during good and bad times, you cobbled together insight. You gain a respect for the insight that you have acquired.  Because TBT, living with an autistic child triumphs what ever expert opinion is floating around……attending years of HPD monthly meetings and listening to many patrol officers over the years (IMO) gives me an insight into things an” expert in the field” who has never attended nor conversed with HPD, won’t have. I agree my “ insight” is narrowly focused. And because I don’t claim to be an expert but rather a ….um…journeyman observer, who offers insights- it’s easy to get shamed. But it is what it is in public discourse. You want to share what you’ve learned; so you have to be willing to absorb the reactions you receive.

About learning how municipal budget operate. I guess over the years, attending more than a few city council meetings, having a few COH council people showing up at a few of the same events and being part of the same political party as a few elected officials- yes I think I have the rudiments of how the budget operates in real life. However, that doesn’t stop me from being snarky in my observations that, a strong Mayor somehow ( no I don’t know how) does a fiscal abracadabra and suddenly funds seem to become available.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I guess I get another chance to voice my skepticism at July 5 meeting- 1602 State Street- 7 pm

but

the topic is 3-1-1

The new version seems a mess and makes it difficult to post problems that are observed on street => non working traffic lights or stop signs that have been run over or graffiti etc, the replacement system is $&#@!
So I might get sidetracked

……it’s so hard to stay focused, when there are so many things to rant about……..sigh

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/29/2022 at 3:47 PM, trymahjong said:

I guess I get another chance to voice my skepticism at July 5 meeting- 1602 State Street- 7 pm

but

the topic is 3-1-1

The new version seems a mess and makes it difficult to post problems that are observed on street => non working traffic lights or stop signs that have been run over or graffiti etc, the replacement system is $&#@!
So I might get sidetracked

……it’s so hard to stay focused, when there are so many things to rant about……..sigh

I've made reports to 3-1-1 on a variety of issues, and their agents have been polite, efficient, and knowledgeable. Problems are resolved quickly; .
I hope whoever's responsible for suggesting these changes keeps their mitts off a system that's working just fine.
 

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On 7/12/2022 at 2:33 PM, trymahjong said:

Guess Covid is everywhere=> really everywhere.....the central1&2 division

(mainly montrose & Heights area)

shut down its meeting b/c covid last week

and now the citywide pip is shutting its meeting scheduled for tonite.

I saw a report this week that Houston's positivity rate is between 29 and 32%, based on wastewater testing.

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  • 1 month later...

From the COH newsletter

Police Chief Finner: Violent and Overall Crime Decreasing in Houston| 08-31-2022

 


In a positive crime summary report to Houston City Councilmembers today (Aug. 31), Houston Police Chief Troy Finner shared that violent crime in the City of Houston is down by 10% and overall crime is down 5% compared to the same time period one year ago.

A video of the chief's report to City Council can be found here.

The city’s murder rate, which showed an increase of more than 70% earlier this year, is now down 1% compared to this time last year. Unofficially, the city has recorded 300 murders in the first eight months of this year compared to 304 in the first eight months of 2021. 

A second major violent crime category of robbery is also down 7%. “It’s important that we get the numbers and facts right when we look at crime in our city so leaders around our city can have the right information,” said Chief Finner. 

Following the presentation, Chief Finner added, “We want our citizens to know that the men and women of HPD, our civilian staff, as well as our community, are all collectively fighting crime and making a positive difference.”

The Chief went on to thank Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston City Council for their support. Chief Finner specifically highlighted the Mayor’s “One Safe Houston” program, which includes the overtime funding of 125 additional officers per day.

The full presentation by Chief Finner and HPD Assistant Chief Milton Martin to the City Council can be viewed on the above YouTube video.

The Chief’s PowerPoint presentation, including year-to-date crime numbers in each City Council District, is available at http://adobe.ly/3pZwGvW
 
 
 

 

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22 hours ago, trymahjong said:

compared to the same time period one year ago

You had me up to that point.

The pandemic has given politicians the ability to cherry-pick the years they compare with, since there were great swings in all kinds of statistics.

I'd like to know what it is compared with 2019, and compared with an average of the last decade.  Comparing anything to 2020 or 2021 is going to have little meaning, IMO.

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39 minutes ago, trymahjong said:

I guess what stood out to me- 

“ One safe Houston” program of millions of dollars allowed 125 additional per day overtime officers to achieve 4 less murders year to date August  31, 2021—-August 31, 2022

I'm not going to do the math and then try to decide how many lives should be saved at what dollar value per life.

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