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October 4, 2006

The Houston Police Department's intensive crime-fighting programs have proved effective this summer. The effects of the crackdown have tended to accelerate through the summer, as we benefit from the cumulative effect of criminals arrested since the Neighborhood Enforcement Team Taskforce program started at the beginning of the year, and a number of supporting initiatives. The largest results are apparent in the places where we have deployed resources most intensively for the longest time.

A good example is your police district, District 17 which includes Fondren Southwest, through the month of August. The violent crime rate per 100,000 population dropped by 32.3% this August compared to last August, despite the fact there has been a much larger population in the apartments in District 17. The total crime rate dropped by 18.1%. Both the total number of violent crimes and the total number of other crimes dropped substantially, both in August and in the three summer months, compared to last year. For the city as a whole, the crime rate this August compared to last August was 11.9% lower for violent crime and 7.9% lower for other crimes.

No crime is acceptable. Crime rates should be lower, particularly in the hotspots of crime. We have deployed programs in other police districts that build on the lessons learned in District 17. There will be no complacency. Maintaining this level of overtime and new academy classes (seven new classes budgeted between now and next summer) has not been cheap.

The men and women in HPD are working hard and doing a good job. The  city's violent crime rate per 100,000 population for January through August of 2006 is 754. That is a lower rate for violent crime than for the comparable eight months in each of the four preceding years. That number is down most significantly from the years preceding this administration, when the violent crime rate per 100,000 for January through August was 790 for 2003 and 843 for 2002. Those rates, in turn, were significantly lower than in many years in the 1990s.

Moreover, in 2004 and 2005, the total number of crimes was less than it had been in every year except two since 1990.

These figures are no excuse for complacency. We intend to continue the build-up in police personnel. We are incurring overtime aggressively. We will continue to make improvements in the police department. The additional personnel we will be adding to HPD will also help us to lower response times for code 3 calls, where we need improvement.

However, I wanted you to have these statistics so that you know that your City Council, I, and law enforcement professionals, are keeping our eye on crime and that a substantial increase in expenditures for policing in the last two years are bearing fruit.

Bill White