Harris County administrator's claim violent crime down 12% based on inaccurate data

The Department of Public Safety compiles crime statistics based on data provided by law enforcement agencies, like the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

"It's all based on the reporting. The sheriff's office has to report the arrests they make, who did we book into jail," said David Batton, Legal Counsel for the Harris County Deputies Organization.

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Last week, County Administrator David Berry presented data to Commissioners Court showing violent crime in the county was down 12%.

"The numbers that we are seeing in violent crime today are lower from last year, and the numbers we saw in 2021 were trending down from 2020. We are moving in the right direction downward," Berry stated in a press release.

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But look at this. The sheriff's office shows zero murders, rapes, and robberies occurred in Harris County last month.

"The numbers aren't there that should be there, that's a problem," Batton said.


The sheriff's office says they didn't report September data to DPS due to technical issues with the computer system.

Last year, the Harris County Sheriff's Office and Pasadena Police Department reported a combined 283 rapes for July, August, and September.

This year, they've reported a combined total of four rapes, and none since July.

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A spokesperson for the sheriff's office blames that on a separate technical issue with the same computer system.

"That would really be dishonest in my opinion to make a claim on no numbers being reported," said Batton. "They've reported no numbers, so that means there's no crime. I don't believe anybody would find that intellectually honest."

For September 2021, the sheriff’s office reported 764 murders aggravated assaults rapes and robberies. For this year, they've reported zero.

County Administrator David Berry issued the following statement to our report: 

"Last Tuesday, October 24, the Harris County Office of Administration presented a report showing the reported homicide rate in all of Harris County was down so far this year. The data were cited by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Last Friday, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office informed us there were some technical errors in their reporting to DPS. But the overall trend does not change. If you look at monthly averages through August 2022, reported homicide is down 10% year-over-year. The same trends also remain true if you look at year-to-date data through July. It is always a good thing when we are discussing data and facts, and we will be happy to update the report once the Sheriff’s Office corrects their reporting. No one is doing a victory lap here, but it is very encouraging that the data are headed in the right direction." 

Pct. 3 County Commissioner Tom Ramsey also issued a statement, saying in part "this is why there is no trust in Harris County government." 

"Either Administrator Berry was aware of the omitted information and proceeded with the presentation, or he didn’t do his due diligence before presenting such crucial information – both of which are unacceptable for the highest paid employee in Harris County government. 

"Providing a presentation with inaccurate data, especially during early voting, is questionable and seems disingenuous. You can probably do a quick search to see which elected officials are touting the decrease in crime, a narrative determined as false. To infer that crime is not our #1 problem is a disservice to the residents of Harris County. Even our Medical Examiner’s office shows no decrease in the number of homicides it has investigated so far this year compared to this time last year. 

"This misrepresentation of the facts by the County Administrator is why we had reservations on the creation of this department to begin with. Updates on crime statistics should be given by the Sheriff, Constables, and District Attorney’s offices, all of whom are elected officials. Instead, Judge Hidalgo, Commissioners Garcia and Ellis placed this in the hands of another un-elected official who is not accountable to the voters.  

"This is why there is no trust in Harris County government, and a direct reflection of the poor leadership Harris County has been under for the last four years. Next Commissioners Court, I will be asking Administrator Berry to explain this error, along with the laundry list of software/technology issues impacting law enforcement."