HOUSTON - New data reveals the City of Houston leads the nation’s top four largest cities in homicides so far this year.
MURDERS IN MAJOR CITIES THROUGH JAN. 23
- New York City: 20 Homicides
- Los Angeles: 26 Homicides (Jan. 22)
- Chicago: 36 Homicides
- Houston: 38 Homicides
Since January 23, additional murders have taken place in Houston.
According to HPD, there had been 41 homicides through the morning of January 25.
"If it keeps up this pace, we’re going to be well over 500 murders this year," said Houston Police Officers’ Union president Douglas Griffith. "I have family here. I grew up here. It’s one of those things, I’m fearful for my family, just to go out of the house."
Griffith believes the rise in violence across Houston is mainly the result of two issues. He says HPD is very understaffed and desperately needs to hire additional officers.
In addition, Griffith believes court judges need to stop letting violent criminals out of jail on bond.
"Felony arrests are up," said Griffith. "We’re going out there every day doing what we need to do, and the courts aren’t doing their job. It’s a fundamental breakdown that we can’t get over."
Over the last year, Harris County has invested more than $50 million into new programs to try and prevent gun violence.
"It may well be, if we hadn’t done this, we may be seeing even worse [homicide] numbers," said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
According to Hidalgo, they’ve invested ‘historic’ amounts of money into law enforcement.
"We’re focusing on being tough and smart," said Hidalgo. "Looking at the research at what does work. I’m constantly asking, ‘what more can we do?’ Just today, I brought in eight additional judges. We do need a system that keeps repeat violent offenders locked up."
"This is a madness we’ve got to put a stop to," said Griffith. "I’m not sure how we’re going to do it. We’re throwing every resource we have into it, and it’s not even touching it."
Unofficially, Houston’s homicide numbers likely increased on Tuesday with at least two more murders. If correct, that makes the new total 43 so far this year.