The latest national crime figures bring good and bad news. The bad news---the national murder rate is up slightly so far this year. The good news---Houston's murder rate is down. The figures from the midyear crime survey of the Major Cities Chiefs Association show the number of homicides nationwide is up about three percent so far in 2017 compared with last year, while the number of aggravated assaults has also increased. The data is based on reports from 62 police departments in major U.S. cities.
Houston was one of the cities to buck the national trend, showing a decline in murder rate for 2017 so far, after seeing an uptick last year. "(Houston) clearly had a very good May and June, and so by midyear it was down quite a bit," says Jeff Asher, crime analyst with 538.com. "That had a pretty significant impact on the overall level of murder in the nation, just because Houston is a big city and it has a significant chunk of the country's murders."
Nevertheless, with the murder rates up nationally and the year far from over, Asher warns that Houston's decline in homicide rate may not hold. "I would urge caution from popping the champagne, but it's certainly a positive trend if the Houston murder rate ends up coming down in 2017," he says.
As for the homicide rate in Houston's suburbs like Katy, The Woodlands and Sugar Land, Asher tells KTRH that specific figures aren't available right now. "In general, the suburbs have followed the trend of the cities, but to a much lesser degree," he says.
Chicago continues to lead the nation in homicides in the survey, with New Orleans, Baltimore and Philadelphia among the cities also reporting increases in murders this year. Atlanta joined Houston among the cities with a declining rate in 2017.