HOUSTON - Crime and more specifically, murders are on the rise here in Houston. Halfway through the year and we’ve had 35% more murders this year compared to last year.
"It’s not good. I’ve been around 35 plus some odd years. I’ve never seen the situation we’re in now involving the crime rates and in particular the homicide rates. I’ve never seen us crank out so many reward fliers," says Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers of Houston.
In fact, the number now stands at 199 murders here in Houston compared to 147 at this time last year and 105 in 2019.
"Every number is a mother, a father, a brother, a sister. We had a really good cycle for about a decade where the homicide rate plummeted dramatically, it did and now kind of like a rollercoaster it’s going back, back, back up," Kahan adds.
"This crime is also impacting officers. My very own family member was killed this past weekend due to gun violence, as well as another officer's brother was killed in what appears to be a road rage incident," says DeAndre Hutchison President of the Afro American Police Officer’s League.
"I think the uptick in gun violence is a result of three factors, typical summertime spike that we’re going to go into. I think the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide unrest we’re experiencing," explains Smokie Phillips Jr. President of the Harris County Afro American Sheriff’s Deputy League.
"A lot of mental health issues that are going unresolved and unchecked. We have a lot of people that are suffering right now due to the financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. We also have this de-sensitivity to human life and we have a lot of people that are more willing to pick up a gun as opposed to talking through their issues," Hutchison adds.
"There’s a myriad of causes. You can’t pinpoint one thing. It’s just a societal problem," says Kahan.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Police Chief Troy Finner on Thursday mentioned the spike in murders and promise the problem is not being ignored.
"We can’t police our way out of murders because police can’t be everywhere," says Phillips.
So what is the solution?
"I hope and pray people start recognizing their behavior has consequences," Kahan says.
"Put the guns down and talk more. Put the guns down and come to the table of discussion. If you have a problem with somebody in the community don’t go by and shoot their house up. See them on the block and say hey man let’s talk. I don’t like how you disrespected me," adds Phillips.
"Grow up, raise a family, have kids and great grandkids and that type of thing. I just don’t think a lot of people are thinking that far into the future. They’re really focused on the here and now. We also need to pray more, lean on our faith based leaders to lead us out of this time period in our communities," says Hutchison.