HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A rising murder rate in the city of Houston is due, in part, to what Houston Crime Stopper’s victim advocate Andy Kahn called a “bond pandemic.”
Kahn pointed to murder suspects who were out of jail on bond on previous charges of violent crimes.
“What we are seeing and what we’re trying to get people to talk about is the revolving door at the courthouse that continues to release offenders time and time again,” Kahn said. “This is collateral damage of what we’re seeing in bond reform.”
Kahn’s comments came during a briefing on the rising numbers from Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
In 2020, murder is up more than 46% in Houston, not just because of well-known days with multiple killings, but because nearly every day brings at least one more.
Acevedo said on Friday the rising rates are a phenomena that extend beyond the city and have been an issue across the country.
Murders with a known crime element are up significantly, including gang crime and narcotics-related killings, Acevedo said.
In 2020, documented gang members have accounted for 57 of the homicide victims in Houston, according to the statistics compiled by HPD.
Drug-related crimes were also a significant number of the murders, while murders related to domestic violence have increased.
Road rage incidents that have ended in the death of someone involved were up slightly as well.
The Houston Police Department’s homicide division has just two additional detectives more than what it had in 2018 when there were at least 83 fewer killings. The division’s Special Investigative Unit, which investigates officer-involved shootings, has added seven detectives.
Chief Acevedo said the department has added new initiatives to put more officers in high crime areas, and he asked the attorney general to help with their case load.
“We’re not going to make excuses. We’re going to continue to do our very best to make a difference,” Acevedo said. “But it starts with the community, and it continues to law enforcement, and it goes to the D.A., and it goes to the prosecutors. It goes to the judges. The courts. Then, we have to look at the parole system as well.”