HOUSTON – Houston's murder rate is on the rise year over year, and a recent study says Houston is one of three cities driving an increase in the nation's overall murder rate.
"Nationally, the murder rate is projected to increase 31.5 percent from 2014 to 2016 -- with half of
additional murders attributable to Baltimore, Chicago and Houston," the Brennan Center for Justice: Crime in 2016 Report stated.
Houston is projected to log 323 murders in 2016, according to calculations based on figures provided by the Houston Police Department.
By Sept. 5 of this year, Houston had logged 218 murders, a 13.5 percent increase vs. the same period in 2015, and a 50.3 percent increase compared to 2011.
2011 had the lowest per-capita murder rate in the city's history.
"In March, April, May, you saw the number just skyrocket," Acting Houston Police Chief Martha Montalvo said.
Montalvo said the 2016 rate has leveled, somewhat, since then.
"The city is becoming more dense, people are having more contact with other. As a result, the more contact people have, the more opportunity there is for murder," Kenneth Williams, a professor at the Houston College of Law, said.
Montalvo said that she has recently deployed more officers to certain parts of town to address the issue.
In a news conference last week, Montalvo said that the majority of murders in Houston can be attributed to gang violence or domestic violence.
"About a month ago, I went to meet with major chiefs across the country and this is an issue we're all having, some more than others," Montalvo said.
The chief said that she is interested in purchasing next-generation predictive software that will help the Houston Police Department further analyze hot spots in the city.
She called the need for such a tool "critical" and said she would press city leaders to sign off on the purchase.