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Being skeptical on 3% drop in COH homicide rate


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This is why am always skeptical of this crime rhetoric, which always rears its head in election season. 

I really wish people like Ed Young would face consequences for being so overtly political (there are of course plenty of other and worse examples across the country). Time to yank tax-exempt status and come clean that this was all part of a deliberate political operation.

 

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5 hours ago, mattyt36 said:

This is why am always skeptical of this crime rhetoric, which always rears its head in election season. 

I really wish people like Ed Young would face consequences for being so overtly political (there are of course plenty of other and worse examples across the country). Time to yank tax-exempt status and come clean that this was all part of a deliberate political operation.

 

You're right to be particularly skeptical of election season rhetoric. 

As for rescinding tax-exempt status there are specific rules for what does or does not trigger that.  I think we'd have to examine the actual speech Ed Young gave.  Right now all I've seen is what someone says that someone says that he said.

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2 hours ago, august948 said:

You're right to be particularly skeptical of election season rhetoric. 

As for rescinding tax-exempt status there are specific rules for what does or does not trigger that.  I think we'd have to examine the actual speech Ed Young gave.  Right now all I've seen is what someone says that someone says that he said.

Oh boy, Augie, I didn’t know it was THAT bad. I know people saying things and hundreds of other people hearing it directly and then it being confirmed independently has increasingly confused a certain political demographic for a long time for matters of convenience (admittedly now at a logarithmic scale since 2016). For whatever reason, said demographic is completely incapable of contemplating that things as written, which make complete sense on their face by simple powers of observation, are or even can be accurate. Are you holding that it is likely that Ed Young didn’t even make the comments alleged in the Chronicle and it is all an innocent misunderstanding? Has Ed Young clarified, or perhaps apologized in good faith for any potential misunderstanding to “advance the dialogue”? Just say “SO WHAT? I don’t care.”

Instead of arguing over the circumstances, let’s start with first principles. IF the article is more-or-less accurate, why not tell us your position on the tax-exempt status? Cuz, pardon me for being presumptuous, survey says your answer is probably doesn’t matter, regardless (or, probably more likely “every tax-exempt organization is corrupt, so why does it matter?”), so why waste your time on arguing simple technicalities?

Best to focus on the substance of the issue than going out of the way to employ gaslighting techniques, i.e., “Did anyone hear him say literally those things, and, if he did, did anyone ask him if he was joking? And if he wasn’t joking, did anyone ask him if he literally believed it? Because if he believed it, no matter how ridiculous it was, it’s OK.” (Same sort of logic with claiming FBI planting documents, and then saying documents were declassified, then saying the documents were in private cartons, etc, and people still thinking everything is A-OK … half the country has seem to have lost its mind trying to make excuses for the absolute obvious. OJ Simpson and Claus Von Bulow would want you on their juries … everything is all just a coincidence and so many people have it out for me, so it can’t possibly be true! It’s certainly no coincidence Trump has Dershowitz in common between those two.)

Such is how propaganda works (if you even believe it to begin with, that is). But I suspect you know this. (At least the part of you that has not completely surrendered to cynicism does.)

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3 hours ago, mattyt36 said:

Oh boy, Augie, I didn’t know it was THAT bad. I know people saying things and hundreds of other people hearing it directly and then it being confirmed independently has increasingly confused a certain political demographic for a long time for matters of convenience (admittedly now at a logarithmic scale since 2016). For whatever reason, said demographic is completely incapable of contemplating that things as written, which make complete sense on their face by simple powers of observation, are or even can be accurate. Are you holding that it is likely that Ed Young didn’t even make the comments alleged in the Chronicle and it is all an innocent misunderstanding? Has Ed Young clarified, or perhaps apologized in good faith for any potential misunderstanding to “advance the dialogue”? Just say “SO WHAT? I don’t care.”

Instead of arguing over the circumstances, let’s start with first principles. IF the article is more-or-less accurate, why not tell us your position on the tax-exempt status? Cuz, pardon me for being presumptuous, survey says your answer is probably doesn’t matter, regardless (or, probably more likely “every tax-exempt organization is corrupt, so why does it matter?”), so why waste your time on arguing simple technicalities?

Best to focus on the substance of the issue than going out of the way to employ gaslighting techniques, i.e., “Did anyone hear him say literally those things, and, if he did, did anyone ask him if he was joking? And if he wasn’t joking, did anyone ask him if he literally believed it? Because if he believed it, no matter how ridiculous it was, it’s OK.” (Same sort of logic with claiming FBI planting documents, and then saying documents were declassified, then saying the documents were in private cartons, etc, and people still thinking everything is A-OK … half the country has seem to have lost its mind trying to make excuses for the absolute obvious. OJ Simpson and Claus Von Bulow would want you on their juries … everything is all just a coincidence and so many people have it out for me, so it can’t possibly be true! It’s certainly no coincidence Trump has Dershowitz in common between those two.)

Such is how propaganda works (if you even believe it to begin with, that is). But I suspect you know this. (At least the part of you that has not completely surrendered to cynicism does.)

Ok...

What I see above is that Young said Houston may be the most dangerous city in the country right now.  Shall we go get a rope?

A quick reading of the IRS rules reveals that you have to engage in extensive political activity as a representative of the church in question.  If you make it clear that this is your personal opinion, then that doesn't count (per the IRS).  That makes sense since, for now, we still have a right to free speech. 

So, on to his actual sermon, did he couch this as his personal opinion?  Did he directly blame Turner, Hidalgo, or Biden for the crime situation?  Did he implore his congregation to vote Republican in November?  We wouldn't know since we've only heard a paraphrase from a source of a source.

I've personally heard church pastors and other church leaders inveigh against real or perceived moral issues of the day from the pulpit.  That is not something new or limited to just well off, Republican leaning churches.  Without further context, it sounds like he was literally preaching to the choir.

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On 9/3/2022 at 10:34 PM, august948 said:

As for rescinding tax-exempt status there are specific rules for what does or does not trigger that. 

Is there an actual trigger, or is it like the FCC and no action is taken until someone files a complaint?

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7 hours ago, editor said:

Is there an actual trigger, or is it like the FCC and no action is taken until someone files a complaint?

I don't think it's an automatic thing.  I'm sure the IRS has to do an investigation, prompted either internally or externally.

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From District C newsletter

 

Friends and neighbors,

Keeping District C families and neighborhoods safe from whatever may come our way is a top priority, and the City of Houston continues to address public safety comprehensively. This week at Council, HPD shared an important update dispelling misinformation about safety in our city. Violent crime is down 10% citywide compared to this time last year, and that decrease is even greater in our own district (12%). The rise of violent crime following the pandemic is not unique to Houston, but Hurricane Harvey and other disasters led to unprecedent challenges for communities that other cities around the country have not faced. 

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On 9/4/2022 at 4:55 AM, august948 said:

Ok...

What I see above is that Young said Houston may be the most dangerous city in the country right now.  Shall we go get a rope?

A quick reading of the IRS rules reveals that you have to engage in extensive political activity as a representative of the church in question.  If you make it clear that this is your personal opinion, then that doesn't count (per the IRS).  That makes sense since, for now, we still have a right to free speech. 

So, on to his actual sermon, did he couch this as his personal opinion?  Did he directly blame Turner, Hidalgo, or Biden for the crime situation?  Did he implore his congregation to vote Republican in November?  We wouldn't know since we've only heard a paraphrase from a source of a source.

I've personally heard church pastors and other church leaders inveigh against real or perceived moral issues of the day from the pulpit.  That is not something new or limited to just well off, Republican leaning churches.  Without further context, it sounds like he was literally preaching to the choir.

Augie, I don't think you're dense or of the dim variety, so I must question myself, how can that be "the take" of someone who I may disagree with politically, but think is sensible.  It's either you think this is all some sort of game, in which "nothing really matters" or you actually earnestly believe what you wrote.

To, as you say, "paraphrase":

Second Baptist pastor Ed Young calls for Democrats to be voted out during sermon (chron.com)

During Dr. Ed Young's sermon to Second Baptist Church in Houston Sunday, the prominent preacher called on congregants to vote out elected officials who he considers at fault for the city's crime. The pastor argued that "delayed justice," including bail bonds, is to blame for the rising rates and is what occurs when "you put left-wing progressives in office."

"If Houston and Harris County is to survive, we had better throw those bums out of office." said Young, who's served as lead pastor at Second Baptist Church since 1978. "They are not doing their job that we have called them to."

That seems, er, pretty black and white. Either it happened mostly as it was described or it didn't.  Maybe it was an innocent "slip of the tongue," so to speak.

If it didn't happen as described, Ed Young has had a week to correct the record.

He hasn't.

Ergo it more than likely happened mostly as it was described.

So, I ask again--very simple question--assuming the above happened (without even asking if you believe it), on a simple question of the rule of law as it exists (again, whether you agree with it or not is immaterial) . . . this is, as we say, "a question of principle" . . . do you think that guy should maintain the privileged tax-exempt status?  Just say yes, absolutely, this guy has it right and I don't care.  In fact, it'd be much better if the US had more religious leadership, the foundational tenet of religious freedom in the Constitution be damned.  It's much easier than going on about how "we don't have the facts . . . we only know what we have read" (Surely you never thought you would be one to say such a thing, or do I have you completely wrong?) and "actually, a quick read of the IRS code says . . . "  (If there's one thing I give the Republicans credit for, it's endurance, as I would find such pretzel logic beyond exhausting.)

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30 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

Augie, I don't think you're dense or of the dim variety, so I must question myself, how can that be "the take" of someone who I may disagree with politically, but think is sensible.  It's either you think this is all some sort of game, in which "nothing really matters" or you actually earnestly believe what you wrote.

To, as you say, "paraphrase":

Second Baptist pastor Ed Young calls for Democrats to be voted out during sermon (chron.com)

During Dr. Ed Young's sermon to Second Baptist Church in Houston Sunday, the prominent preacher called on congregants to vote out elected officials who he considers at fault for the city's crime. The pastor argued that "delayed justice," including bail bonds, is to blame for the rising rates and is what occurs when "you put left-wing progressives in office."

"If Houston and Harris County is to survive, we had better throw those bums out of office." said Young, who's served as lead pastor at Second Baptist Church since 1978. "They are not doing their job that we have called them to."

That seems, er, pretty black and white. Either it happened mostly as it was described or it didn't.  Maybe it was an innocent "slip of the tongue," so to speak.

If it didn't happen as described, Ed Young has had a week to correct the record.

He hasn't.

Ergo it more than likely happened mostly as it was described.

So, I ask again--very simple question--assuming the above happened (without even asking if you believe it), on a simple question of the rule of law as it exists (again, whether you agree with it or not is immaterial) . . . this is, as we say, "a question of principle" . . . do you think that guy should maintain the privileged tax-exempt status?  Just say yes, absolutely, this guy has it right and I don't care.  In fact, it'd be much better if the US had more religious leadership, the foundational tenet of religious freedom in the Constitution be damned.  It's much easier than going on about how "we don't have the facts . . . we only know what we have read" (Surely you never thought you would be one to say such a thing, or do I have you completely wrong?) and "actually, a quick read of the IRS code says . . . "  (If there's one thing I give the Republicans credit for, it's endurance, as I would find such pretzel logic beyond exhausting.)

Thank you for posting the chron article.  That gives a little more clarity on what he actually said. 

That said, I favor broad leeway on free speech and I find it disturbing that the typical reaction to speech someone doesn't like to be an attempt to shut it down.  Thus, I'm not inclined to call for the punishment of someone who's speaking their mind, even if I think they're dead wrong in data or interpretation.  The proper response, in my opinion, is the exercise of free speech by others to rebut or counter the speech, not to intimidate or to take legal action.

As for the IRS, there are specific rules regarding what can cause an organization to lose it's tax exempt status.  I am, however, no expert in this regulation and my experiences have taught me that the way things actually work in the legal world are frequently not the way we assume they work.

I'm quite sure SBC is regularly complained about and perhaps investigated in this regards.  I'm not going to call for that, though.  Nor would I call for it if a liberal leaning pastor were to make similar statements about a Republican administration, candidates, or policies.

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10 hours ago, august948 said:

Thank you for posting the chron article.  That gives a little more clarity on what he actually said.

Color me confused as to why you would opine so strongly initially without reading the media coverage to begin with. There is only one newspaper of record in Houston, so it’s not even a tough Google. “I think we’d have to examine the actual speech Ed Young made,” you said.

Uh huh. It’s called Google if you are so obsessed about what was or wasn’t said.

Seriously, dude, give me a break. Yeah, “Thanks for the link,” for sure.

The rest of your response can be dismissed due to the disingenuousness with which it began.

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52 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

Color me confused as to why you would opine so strongly initially without reading the media coverage to begin with. There is only one newspaper of record in Houston, so it’s not even a tough Google. “I think we’d have to examine the actual speech Ed Young made,” you said.

Uh huh. It’s called Google if you are so obsessed about what was or wasn’t said.

Seriously, dude, give me a break. Yeah, “Thanks for the link,” for sure.

The rest of your response can be dismissed due to the disingenuousness with which it began.

Re-reading my initial post on this, I wouldn't characterize it as opining strongly.  In point of fact, I agreed with you that we should be particularly skeptical of election season rhetoric.  I was just pointing out that the IRS has specific rules that it applies in revoking exemptions.  And at that point, I had only seen the KHOU post and wasn't inclined to dive in head-first in an analysis to try to predict what the IRS would actually do.

It is true, though, that I'm not particularly obsessed with what Ed Young or any other pastor says from the pulpit.  I think I explained the why on that in one of the posts above.  If the IRS finds he's violating the rule and revokes his exemption, I'm fine with that.  If they examine it and determine he's coloring within the lines, I'm fine with that too.  But, I'm not going to be the one to call for torches and pitchforks just because he spoke his mind, right or wrong.

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Two months out from Election Day, the politically charged debate over crime and public safety in Harris County already has hit a boiling point.

Rev. Ed Young of Houston’s Second Baptist Church recently called his hometown “the most dangerous city in America” as he urged congregants to oust “left-wing progressives” from local office. Democratic county leaders insist crime is down and they are pumping money into law enforcement. And their Republican challengers are staking their campaigns on the opposite assertion: crime is out of control and democrats are to blame.

 
In reality it’s a lot more complicated than that

While violent crime has spiked in Houston and Harris County, the same can be said of nearly every large city and county in the nation — many of which have far higher rates of murder and other violent crime. Criminologists also point to many possible factors underpinning the crime surge, making it impossible to sum up the situation by pointing to a single statistic or policy decision.

“It's not a Republican thing or a Democrat thing, especially with the increase over the last four years. It's been a national increase, clearly,” said New Orleans-based criminologist Jeff Asher, who added that Houston’s murder rate is “middle of the pack” for major American cities.

Further complicating the debate are the myriad ways of interpreting Harris County’s public safety spending, a topic that has taken center stage since Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar last month accused the county of “defunding” its constables, allegedly in violation of a newly enacted state law.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat who presides over Commissioners Court, repeatedly has said the sheriff, constables and district attorney have received funding boosts in each county budget since Democrats won a 3-2 court majority in 2018. The annual increases are comparable to those adopted under Republican control, relative to the size of the county’s overall general fund budget, with some caveats.

Critics argue the full picture must account for Democrats’ decision last year to scrap a policy that let departments retain unspent funds into future budget cycles. The change led to the county recouping a significant amount of “rollover funds” from law enforcement and other departments, some of which had accumulated millions of unspent dollars over the years.

Michael Adams, a political science professor at Texas Southern University, said this year’s Commissioners Court elections offer a stark choice between Republicans who are pitching a return to the county’s traditional focus on public safety and infrastructure, and Democrats who have pushed for a more expansive role, including social services, for county government.

The success of the GOP approach depends less on statistical trends and more on whether crime is “visible” to voters on the nightly news, Adams said.

“Certainly, the crime issue has been a staple for the Republican side,” said Adams, the director of TSU’s master of public administration program. “They feel that they can galvanize and gin up voter support by running on an anti-crime platform, and it’s nothing new for them. You can go back to Richard Nixon, in terms of being tough on crime, law-and-order.”

Violent crime rates

Contrary to Young’s claim, Houston is far from the most dangerous city in the country. In 2020, the first year of the homicide surge, Houston tallied about 17 murders per 100,000 people, less than half the rates recorded by several other large cities, including St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, Memphis and Cleveland.

Still, Houston has seen a sharp rise in homicides each of the last two years, starting with a 43 percent surge from 2019 to 2020 — similar to the increase measured across all of Harris County, including Houston and the other incorporated cities. Murders across the country spiked by 29 percent that year, as a number of large cities — including Chicago and New York — recorded increases north of 50 percent.

Counts of assault also rose about 30 percent across Harris County in 2020, while property crimes saw a slight decline, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s “index crimes report,” which collects data from local law enforcement.

Experts have offered a number of theories for why the country saw such a dramatic surge in homicides. Some of the leading theories include mental and financial stress of the COVID-19 pandemic; strained police-community relations; and officers taking a less proactive approach in the face of widespread scrutiny, known as de-policing.

“I think it was a complex confluence of factors related to, but not inherently caused by, a sort of increasing distrust in police, increasing de-policing, and exacerbated but not caused by the pandemic, and a nation awash in guns,” Asher said, stressing he was offering only a hypothesis.

Homicides climbed again in Houston last year, from 400 to 469. With a rate of about 20 murders per 100,000 people, 2021 marked one of the city’s deadliest years over the last three decades. Houston also surpassed Dallas for the highest murder rate among Texas’ large cities — though still well behind other big cities around the country.

Overall, Harris County law enforcement agencies tallied 632 homicides last year, a 12 percent increase from the previous year, according to DPS data. The uptick was driven almost entirely by murders in Houston, however, with the homicide rate in unincorporated Harris County staying flat at about 5 killings per 100,000 people.

Now, following back-to-back years of sharp increases, the murder rate has begun to recede in Houston and the county as a whole. And each major category of violent crime — murder, rape, robbery and assault — has declined countywide through the first half of 2022 compared to the same point last year, according to DPS data.

Hidalgo, up for re-election in November, has cited the reversing murder trend in her attempts to counter Republican challenger Alexandra del Moral Mealer, who has vowed to prioritize public safety and hike law enforcement spending if elected.

Even with the initial decrease through June, however, the countywide tallies of murders and assaults remained on pace to far exceed their levels from 2019, the year before those two categories spiked.

Law enforcement funding

While the political dispute over constable funding has attracted headlines in recent weeks, the combined budget of Harris County’s eight constable precincts makes up only a fraction of the county’s overall public safety spending. In the most recent annual spending plan, Commissioners Court budgeted about $879 million for the sheriff’s office, constables and district attorney, nearly two-thirds of which went to the sheriff.

That amounted to about a 15 percent increase in funding for the county’s main public safety departments across the first three years of Democratic control on Commissioners Court, which began in January 2019. Those same departments saw their funding rise at roughly the same rate — 14.5 percent — over the final three years of the Republican court majority, from 2015 to 2018.

A key difference, however, is the county’s decision to do away with rollover funds in March 2021, shortly after Commissioners Court approved the county budget that year.

Some constables said they submitted their annual budget requests based on the assumption they would retain their rollover funds, only to later discover otherwise. Republican Commissioner Jack Cagle, a critic of the move, has compared the situation to stealing someone’s savings right before their bills are due at the end of the month.

“Now I don't have the money to pay my bills when the next month rolls around,” Cagle said. “I think that that was not fair to those who are dependent upon their rollover (funds) to come in and take, in essence, their savings account away from them.”

County budget officials note they allowed each department, including constables, to retain unspent funds last year for specific proposals and demonstrated needs, as long as they were used for one-time expenses. They were not allowed to use the funds to pay for personnel, as some constables regularly had done.

When the county ended the rollover policy last year, the eight constables had a collective $18.9 million in unspent funds, mostly accumulated over multiple years, according to the Office of the County Administrator. They requested about $5 million in one-time expenses out of those funds, all of which were approved, while the rest were returned to the county, County Administrator David Berry said.

Most of the remaining funds came from Republican Constables Mark Herman and Ted Heap, who later filed the complaint that sparked Hegar to weigh in on the issue.

During a court meeting last year, Hidalgo said the policy change was intended in part to end the practice of departments using rollover money to fund baseline operations, including hiring personnel, outside the traditional budgeting process.

“The problem is, if we allow folks to fill unfunded positions that have not been approved as part of the budget, and retroactively say, hey, now I want you to make them permanent, it sets a terrible precedent,” Hidalgo said. “...We cannot set a precedent where folks fill positions that are unfunded, and then expect us to fund them, and if we don't you call it defunding the police.”

Hidalgo and county budget officials also said Harris County largely was an outlier in allowing departments to keep unspent funds for future budgeting cycles. In a memo last year outlining the change, Berry said some departments were not filling all their funded positions so they could increase their rollover amount.

Former county judge Ed Emmett, a Republican whom Hidalgo unseated in 2018, said he favored the use of rollover budgeting because he thought it incentivized fiscal discipline among departments and discouraged end-of-year spending sprees on unneeded items.

He also took a swing at Hidalgo and Democratic Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia, without mentioning the latter two by name, for preserving their own rollover funds in the county budget.

“I think Judge Hidalgo and the Democrats would be on firmer ground if they'd done away with their own rollover budgets,” Emmett said. “I mean, how can they say that? It's an absurd argument to say, oh, rollovers are terrible, but we kept ours. Really?”

Hidalgo and all four commissioners are exempt from the policy change. The proposed county budget for next fiscal year estimates Hidalgo will carry over less than $1 million, while the four commissioners would retain at least $85 million in combined unspent funds.

Emmett said he sides with Mealer and other Republicans who argue the county should be spending more on law enforcement, but he also took issue with Hegar’s intervention in the budgeting process.

“I don't think the state helps by getting involved, is all I’m saying,” he said. “I think that’s something that the local residents can pick up on.”

jasper.scherer@chron.com

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14 hours ago, trymahjong said:

Thank you for sharing @trymahjong.  I don't know if this is the first substantive article the Chronicle has written about the subject but it sure feels like it.

Key points from the article:

The success of the GOP approach depends less on statistical trends and more on whether crime is “visible” to voters on the nightly news, Adams said.

Which is my sense--this is more about "feelings" than reality.

Contrary to Young’s claim, Houston is far from the most dangerous city in the country. In 2020, the first year of the homicide surge, Houston tallied about 17 murders per 100,000 people, less than half the rates recorded by several other large cities, including St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, Memphis and Cleveland.

Either Ed Young "feels" this way, or it was deliberately political.  I know what my guess is.

Still, Houston has seen a sharp rise in homicides each of the last two years, starting with a 43 percent surge from 2019 to 2020 — similar to the increase measured across all of Harris County, including Houston and the other incorporated cities. Murders across the country spiked by 29 percent that year, as a number of large cities — including Chicago and New York — recorded increases north of 50 percent.

Awful statistics.  43% surge 2019-2020, all on Mr Law and Order's watch, if you want to get political.

I prefer not to.

Seems like we should figure out what exactly is going on first before making ridiculous promises about hiring 1,000 new police officers "just because . . . feelings."

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Social media like Nextdoor hasn't helped with perception, since very last little issue gets blown up, especially when higher end neighborhoods get hit with a crime or two. I am really annoyed at the people in areas like Tanglewood that say "I pay a lot of taxes, and think HPD should be spending more time patrolling my neighborhood", when HPD is spending their time patrolling areas where crime is much worse, but the residents are poor. I see demands to hire more officers, but there is no understanding of the constraints on budget increases when the City has had a revenue cap for property taxes since 2004. Police and fire budgets already exceed the total amount of property taxes collected. If they want more police protection, then taxes will have to increase.

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On 9/12/2022 at 1:27 PM, trymahjong said:

Rev. Ed Young of Houston’s Second Baptist Church recently called his hometown “the most dangerous city in America” as he urged congregants to oust “left-wing progressives” from local office. Democratic county leaders insist crime is down and they are pumping money into law enforcement. And their Republican challengers are staking their campaigns on the opposite assertion: crime is out of control and democrats are to blame.

 

Well, I know what I'll be doing.

Report Tax Exempt Status Abuses to the IRS

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4 hours ago, Ross said:

Social media like Nextdoor hasn't helped with perception, since very last little issue gets blown up, especially when higher end neighborhoods get hit with a crime or two. I am really annoyed at the people in areas like Tanglewood that say "I pay a lot of taxes, and think HPD should be spending more time patrolling my neighborhood", when HPD is spending their time patrolling areas where crime is much worse, but the residents are poor. I see demands to hire more officers, but there is no understanding of the constraints on budget increases when the City has had a revenue cap for property taxes since 2004. Police and fire budgets already exceed the total amount of property taxes collected. If they want more police protection, then taxes will have to increase.

Nextdoor is hot mess of nimbyism and overconcern for everyone else's business.

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On 9/12/2022 at 10:12 PM, mattyt36 said:

Thank you for sharing @trymahjong.  I don't know if this is the first substantive article the Chronicle has written about the subject but it sure feels like it.

Key points from the article:

The success of the GOP approach depends less on statistical trends and more on whether crime is “visible” to voters on the nightly news, Adams said.

Which is my sense--this is more about "feelings" than reality.

Contrary to Young’s claim, Houston is far from the most dangerous city in the country. In 2020, the first year of the homicide surge, Houston tallied about 17 murders per 100,000 people, less than half the rates recorded by several other large cities, including St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, Memphis and Cleveland.

Either Ed Young "feels" this way, or it was deliberately political.  I know what my guess is.

Still, Houston has seen a sharp rise in homicides each of the last two years, starting with a 43 percent surge from 2019 to 2020 — similar to the increase measured across all of Harris County, including Houston and the other incorporated cities. Murders across the country spiked by 29 percent that year, as a number of large cities — including Chicago and New York — recorded increases north of 50 percent.

Awful statistics.  43% surge 2019-2020, all on Mr Law and Order's watch, if you want to get political.

I prefer not to.

Seems like we should figure out what exactly is going on first before making ridiculous promises about hiring 1,000 new police officers "just because . . . feelings."

Politics is usually more about feelings than reality.  That really should be no surprise.

What I think we can agree on is that there has been a spike in crime here and nationwide.  While I'm skeptical that anyone can suddenly hire 1.000 new officers, is there some doubt that a greatly increased police presence would serve to dampen crime in general?  Or, without even hiring the new officers, just giving the impression that there will be a crackdown will lead many criminals to be less active?

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1 hour ago, august948 said:

is there some doubt that a greatly increased police presence would serve to dampen crime in general?  Or, without even hiring the new officers, just giving the impression that there will be a crackdown will lead many criminals to be less active?

I dunno--I'm not a criminologist.  I understand how that would make intuitive sense, but surely there must be a point of severely diminishing returns, not to mention unintended (and potentially severe) consequences.

Again, it would help to know more granularity about the data, what types of crimes are increasing, and some meaningful analysis as to the driving factors.  Domestic abuse, for example . . . I fail to see how hiring more police officers is going to stop a husband from being abusive towards his wife.  Maybe if they're doing it on the street, I suppose there's an increased chance assuming more police cars are driving around.  But even then that seems like a very low probability given the region's land area.  So we go from (for illustrative purposes only) a 0.01% chance that a police officer will be driving by at the exact location at the exact time when a husband is abusing his wife to a 0.02% chance if we double the police headcount?  I just fail to see the reasoning.

Are there not enough 911 operators?  Are officers not arriving fast enough (or not at all)?  Are cases not being processed quickly enough?  Have police reduced patrols? 

And if we have information on the above, what exactly has changed since 2019?

Seems to me questions like that are the place to start.

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41 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

I dunno--I'm not a criminologist.  I understand how that would make intuitive sense, but surely there must be a point of severely diminishing returns, not to mention unintended (and potentially severe) consequences.

Again, it would help to know more granularity about the data, what types of crimes are increasing, and some meaningful analysis as to the driving factors.  Domestic abuse, for example . . . I fail to see how hiring more police officers is going to stop a husband from being abusive towards his wife.  Maybe if they're doing it on the street, I suppose there's an increased chance assuming more police cars are driving around.  But even then that seems like a very low probability given the region's land area.  So we go from (for illustrative purposes only) a 0.01% chance that a police officer will be driving by at the exact location at the exact time when a husband is abusing his wife to a 0.02% chance if we double the police headcount?  I just fail to see the reasoning.

Are there not enough 911 operators?  Are officers not arriving fast enough (or not at all)?  Are cases not being processed quickly enough?  Have police reduced patrols? 

And if we have information on the above, what exactly has changed since 2019?

Seems to me questions like that are the place to start.

If I recall the numbers correctly, HPD has about 300 officers on patrol at any given time. That's for a city of over 600 square miles. The chances of an officer driving by at just the right time are minimal, and doubling the number wouldn't make that much difference. The difference would be in better response times to calls for service, which would increase the potential that bad guys get caught in the act.

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12 minutes ago, Ross said:

If I recall the numbers correctly, HPD has about 300 officers on patrol at any given time. That's for a city of over 600 square miles. The chances of an officer driving by at just the right time are minimal, and doubling the number wouldn't make that much difference. The difference would be in better response times to calls for service, which would increase the potential that bad guys get caught in the act.

OK that makes sense, but getting "caught in the act" still means the crime is being committed, i.e., it still counts in the rate.

So I guess the underlying hypothesis, assuming this is the strategy, is that most criminals will continue "criming" until they're caught.  Or more arrests deter others from committing crimes.  Probably true for many crimes, but not necessarily all (murder being one, which people seem to be focused on). 

I wonder if HPD or HCSO have any data on number of reported crimes in which they feel an apprehension would've been made if the response time were lower.

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I’ve pretty much covered all my experience meeting up with HPD community programs and hearing the crime stats ( good and bad) from their prospective.

Here’s my current mull over question.

Which is the more potent HPD crime fighting proposal…..having current HPD officers work 12 hour shifts……..or hire more officers?

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40 minutes ago, trymahjong said:

I’ve pretty much covered all my experience meeting up with HPD community programs and hearing the crime stats ( good and bad) from their prospective.

Here’s my current mull over question.

Which is the more potent HPD crime fighting proposal…..having current HPD officers work 12 hour shifts……..or hire more officers?

Would 12 hr shifts lead to burnout?

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1 hour ago, trymahjong said:

I’ve pretty much covered all my experience meeting up with HPD community programs and hearing the crime stats ( good and bad) from their prospective.

Here’s my current mull over question.

Which is the more potent HPD crime fighting proposal…..having current HPD officers work 12 hour shifts……..or hire more officers?

I.e., perpetual overtime or hire more officers?  Seems like that choice is pretty clear.  But perhaps that's your point.

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  • 2 weeks later...

one of my friends sent me this....2022 seems a banner year for addition (unexpected) monies to come to HPD- But what is the result? What is the impact on crime?
 

Houston and Harris County will get $2 million as part of a nationwide grant program to help communities reduce gun crime and other serious violence.

On Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite and U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery joined leaders from federal and local law enforcement agencies to announce a first-of-its-kind initiative targeting violent crimes in the Houston area.

"We will employ a data driven approach to first identify and then prosecute the worst of the worst gangs and gang members who are disproportionately responsible for the violent crime gripping this community," Polite said. "Everyone should feel safe in their homes, in their neighborhoods. Unfortunately, violent crime deprives too many of our communities of that fundamental security."

The new initiative will include prosecutors from the Criminal Division's organized Crime and Gang section, investigative agents, analyst, forensic experts from the FBI, HPD, HCSO and more.

The Department of Justice is awarding $100 million worth of similar grants across the United States.

"Together we will work coordinated, targeted, intelligence driven efforts with our law enforcement partners," U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery said. "As a team, we will develop strong cases where the defendants who possess the greatest danger to threats to the community will be arrested, will not be released, and will receive significant prison sentences. But second, we’re going to educate, train and support the citizen."

Programs include the Chance program, reentry programs, community policing and de-escalation training, as well as safeguarding communities and mentoring programs.

There are also initiatives to help prevent school violence.

"We as a school district are taking steps to prepare for a variety of situations concerning safety. We’ve already upgraded fencing, added cameras, invested in police equipment and so much more that that’s on the horizon as well," Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II explained. "Now, as a district, we are always collaborating with our schools and community to assess what we have in place and really plan for the future as well. The work never stops because our environment continuously changes. Today, we take another step further in meeting the moment by continuing to collaborate with safety leaders and partners nationwide."

"Know that we will be part of this community going forward. Far after any single prosecution ends," added Polite. "We are not above, we are not below, we are not outside of this community. We are part of this community."

 

 

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16 minutes ago, trymahjong said:

one of my friends sent me this....2022 seems a banner year for addition (unexpected) monies to come to HPD- But what is the result? What is the impact on crime?
 

Houston and Harris County will get $2 million as part of a nationwide grant program to help communities reduce gun crime and other serious violence.

On Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite and U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery joined leaders from federal and local law enforcement agencies to announce a first-of-its-kind initiative targeting violent crimes in the Houston area.

"We will employ a data driven approach to first identify and then prosecute the worst of the worst gangs and gang members who are disproportionately responsible for the violent crime gripping this community," Polite said. "Everyone should feel safe in their homes, in their neighborhoods. Unfortunately, violent crime deprives too many of our communities of that fundamental security."

The new initiative will include prosecutors from the Criminal Division's organized Crime and Gang section, investigative agents, analyst, forensic experts from the FBI, HPD, HCSO and more.

The Department of Justice is awarding $100 million worth of similar grants across the United States.

"Together we will work coordinated, targeted, intelligence driven efforts with our law enforcement partners," U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery said. "As a team, we will develop strong cases where the defendants who possess the greatest danger to threats to the community will be arrested, will not be released, and will receive significant prison sentences. But second, we’re going to educate, train and support the citizen."

Programs include the Chance program, reentry programs, community policing and de-escalation training, as well as safeguarding communities and mentoring programs.

There are also initiatives to help prevent school violence.

"We as a school district are taking steps to prepare for a variety of situations concerning safety. We’ve already upgraded fencing, added cameras, invested in police equipment and so much more that that’s on the horizon as well," Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II explained. "Now, as a district, we are always collaborating with our schools and community to assess what we have in place and really plan for the future as well. The work never stops because our environment continuously changes. Today, we take another step further in meeting the moment by continuing to collaborate with safety leaders and partners nationwide."

"Know that we will be part of this community going forward. Far after any single prosecution ends," added Polite. "We are not above, we are not below, we are not outside of this community. We are part of this community."

 

 

So, were we not already identifying and prosecuting the worst of the worst? 

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All of this can boggle one’s mind of course- careful discussion among neighbors( actual-people-living-close-to-one-another) would be a good way to share insights and gather other information.

And Houston is in luck as a City wide event is Scheduled for this coming up Tuesday—-October 4—Texas National Night-Out. When All neighborhoods are suppose to gather “ take a bite out of crime” discuss crime and safety etc etc etc…..HPD goes around visiting as many of these functions as they can. Elected officials go around to these doing the meet and greet. Candidates #how up at these things—- conversations flow………all those visitors from HPD and Elected Officials   offer solid information….that solid information is reviewed by the neighbors…issues of “good/bad” info or reliable/unreliable stats are confronted……….knowledge gained…..constructive steps taken.

But even my “pie-in-sky” optimism knows the unlikelihood of that happening.

sigh

 so the mind Boggle of HPD and crime continues.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The mind boggle goes on…….

 

 Republican campaign TV advertisements tout  Houston’s soaring Crime rate increases  while  Mayor Turners contingencies keep bringing up single digit crime rate decreases.

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On 10/10/2022 at 11:51 AM, trymahjong said:

The mind boggle goes on…….

 

 Republican campaign TV advertisements tout  Houston’s soaring Crime rate increases  while  Mayor Turners contingencies keep bringing up single digit crime rate decreases.

OMG what do we do?!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow

i just saw a political ad with Mattress Mac and Dave Ward-

Mac said Harris County Crime rate was up 24%
 

I was caught off guard... most of the stat numbers associated with all the yadayada talk on crime going up or down were in single digits.

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On 10/22/2022 at 9:40 AM, trymahjong said:

Wow

i just saw a political ad with Mattress Mac and Dave Ward-

Mac said Harris County Crime rate was up 24%
 

I was caught off guard... most of the stat numbers associated with all the yadayada talk on crime going up or down were in single digits.

So . . . what was your conclusion?

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On 10/22/2022 at 9:40 AM, trymahjong said:

Wow

i just saw a political ad with Mattress Mac and Dave Ward-

Mac said Harris County Crime rate was up 24%
 

I was caught off guard... most of the stat numbers associated with all the yadayada talk on crime going up or down were in single digits.

It all depends on what you are measuring and over what time periods.  Both can be true but you can't get a real picture on it unless you know the parameters.

Here's a little bit from the Chronicle...https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/crime/article/violent-crime-in-houston-numbers-17431491.php

Quote

Still, Houston has seen a sharp rise in homicides each of the last two years, starting with a 43 percent surge from 2019 to 2020 — similar to the increase measured across all of Harris County, including Houston and the other incorporated cities. Murders across the country spiked by 29 percent that year, as a number of large cities — including Chicago and New York — recorded increases north of 50 percent.

I haven't vetted this in any way and am assuming the Chronicle wouldn't have printed it without checking it first (a big assumption, perhaps?)  This measurement over the stated time periods is higher than what Mac said.  I'd bet that if you measured a different crime or set of crimes over a different period (ytd 2022, maybe?) you'd get a different, perhaps single-digit result.

Read this little gem and you won't get caught off guard...

A Summary of 'How to Lie with Statistics' by Darrell Huff

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16 hours ago, mattyt36 said:

So . . . what was your conclusion?

Confusion…..smoke and mirrors?
 

Most of this thread centered on me and my monthly spoonfed  info on crime data at HPD/PIP meetings. HPD usually uses year-to-date crime analysis. That seemed  such a small ( but digestible) increase/decrease differences; till Mayor Turner wanted to use it to justify his $$$$ spent on intervention programs instead of hiring more bodies to put on the street. 
 

Now the election….each side plays fast and loose with the stats=> hence my confusion. Personally having lived within Montrose 20 years; neighbors seem to  have more and more stories of people getting assaulted or robbed. So for me, it does seem crime is increasing.

The indigestion comes in reflecting whether or not electing new politicians will impact crime.

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On 10/24/2022 at 7:03 AM, trymahjong said:

Confusion…..smoke and mirrors?
 

Most of this thread centered on me and my monthly spoonfed  info on crime data at HPD/PIP meetings. HPD usually uses year-to-date crime analysis. That seemed  such a small ( but digestible) increase/decrease differences; till Mayor Turner wanted to use it to justify his $$$$ spent on intervention programs instead of hiring more bodies to put on the street. 
 

Now the election….each side plays fast and loose with the stats=> hence my confusion. Personally having lived within Montrose 20 years; neighbors seem to  have more and more stories of people getting assaulted or robbed. So for me, it does seem crime is increasing.

The indigestion comes in reflecting whether or not electing new politicians will impact crime.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, this obsession with statistics (as opposed to experience) when they're presumably readily available for those interested makes little sense.  Numbers are numbers.  For someone so "in the know," I'm really surprised you haven't "gotten to the bottom of it," so to speak.  Early on I asked if you were convinced that the data were false.  I don't remember getting a straight answer back then, either.  Batting numbers back and forth without any appreciation of the substance--and admittedly so--seems just so nonsensical to me.  "I was scared yesterday when I saw this but now I saw this number and I'm really scared."  Or "I don't know what to believe anymore, and I'm going to spend a good chunk of my life continuing to try to figure out something I've admittedly had 20 years to figure out without success."  Forgive me for my directness, but it sounds like a lot of this is a personal issue. 

Here's my prediction: If the Repubs win the County back, the crime issue will miraculously disappear and the 1,000 officers will not be hired.  Maybe they'll make an effort to cherry pick in the first months of their administration or come up with new metrics, but at the end of the day they will declare the issue to be "fixed."  People who buy into this crap in the first place will also buy into this latest round.  Meanwhile, at the end of the day, I predict little of substance will have changed.  At least certainly not overnight.  Crime will be continue to be concentrated in certain areas in what is likely an organized way, or amongst family and friends, and there will still be a not insignificant number of innocent people caught in the crossfire.  Sad?  Absolutely.  Does it occur as often as these political predators imply with their extortionate campaign ads?  Nope.  At the end of the day, they're the ones who turn these feelings of panic off and on, and the country is all the worse for it because I guarantee you they have little interest in doing anything substantive or fixing the more systemic issues.  They are entirely unserious people interested only in scaring a bunch of people every 2 years to obtain power.  They won't even show up to the Commissioners Court to vote on the damned budget--it is blackmail and extortion, plain and simple, and counter to what they say they are politically interested in.  And plenty of the law enforcement leadership is shamefully complicit.  These people--a whole bunch of miserable people who are essentially "I'm not going to play unless I win, and I'm happy to take down the whole government with me in order to do so"--by definition have absolutely zero business in government.  Still, sadly, their tactics have a great chance of working this year.

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Is Violent Crime Increasing? | Department of Criminology (upenn.edu)

Even though the increases in violent crime tend to be concentrated in neighborhoods that already had substantial crime problems, the violent crime increases appear to be quite common throughout the county. Some local district attorneys are progressive, and some are not. Some local mayors and governors are Republicans, and some are Democrats. Some state legislatures lean left, and some lean right. Political finger pointing at the state, county and city level will not likely be persuasive. Blaming individuals or institutions at the federal level probably will not work either because most crimes are not federal crimes, and federal actions can only have local effects at the margins.

One is left with several conclusions. First, the recent violent crime increases, even if they are not just noise, are dwarfed by the amount of violent crime in the 1990s. We have not returned to the bad old days. Second, the speculative explanations commonly proposed must fit the timing of the recent violent crime increases. Conjectures revolving around the COVID-19 pandemic and pent-up frustrations, at least as usually formulated, do not seem to get it right. Third, explanations based on more passive police practices, real and imagined, coupled with the perceptions of reduced risk among individuals already predisposed toward violence, may have some merit, but the existing data range from weak to nonexistent. It is very difficult to bring facts to bear. Fourth, if one takes the solid black curves in the two graphs at face value, we have been on a time path that is bottoming out. Sadly, this may be about as good as it gets under the existing conditions that affect violent crime. Variation in violent crime over the past few years may be nothing more than a bit of bouncing off the bottom. Fifth, with the passage of time, and the accumulation of better data, we may understand more about what drives violent crime. But we have a long way to go.

Edited by mattyt36
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5 hours ago, mattyt36 said:

 

 

Is Violent Crime Increasing? | Department of Criminology (upenn.edu)

Even though the increases in violent crime tend to be concentrated in neighborhoods that already had substantial crime problems, the violent crime increases appear to be quite common throughout the county. Some local district attorneys are progressive, and some are not. Some local mayors and governors are Republicans, and some are Democrats. Some state legislatures lean left, and some lean right. Political finger pointing at the state, county and city level will not likely be persuasive. Blaming individuals or institutions at the federal level probably will not work either because most crimes are not federal crimes, and federal actions can only have local effects at the margins.

One is left with several conclusions. First, the recent violent crime increases, even if they are not just noise, are dwarfed by the amount of violent crime in the 1990s. We have not returned to the bad old days. Second, the speculative explanations commonly proposed must fit the timing of the recent violent crime increases. Conjectures revolving around the COVID-19 pandemic and pent-up frustrations, at least as usually formulated, do not seem to get it right. Third, explanations based on more passive police practices, real and imagined, coupled with the perceptions of reduced risk among individuals already predisposed toward violence, may have some merit, but the existing data range from weak to nonexistent. It is very difficult to bring facts to bear. Fourth, if one takes the solid black curves in the two graphs at face value, we have been on a time path that is bottoming out. Sadly, this may be about as good as it gets under the existing conditions that affect violent crime. Variation in violent crime over the past few years may be nothing more than a bit of bouncing off the bottom. Fifth, with the passage of time, and the accumulation of better data, we may understand more about what drives violent crime. But we have a long way to go.

News flash!!!   Liberal commentator at liberal newspaper complains about Fox news!

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