What One Bloody Weekend in Houston Says About Crime and Safety

2015 has seen an above average number of homicides in Houston so far.

By Rhonda FanningMarch 25, 2015 9:14 am|

The Houston Chronicle reports six people were shot and killed in four separate incidents within about 30 hours between Friday night and Sunday morning. A seventh was found shot to death after being unaccounted for several days.

“I’ve been here since ’79 and this is very unusual,” Houston Police Sergeant C. Mosqueda told the Chronicle. “It appears that just starting off this year we’re pretty busy,” he said. “So I kind of anticipate a heavy summer.”

Despite the weekend’s tragedy, Robert Werth, a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Rice University, says this series of seven events might not indicate a trend. For the last two decades we’ve seen a decline in homicide events.

“At a citywide level, and even going beyond the state of Texas,”Werth says, “what we may see is quite possibly an anomaly – not a return to the crime rates of the 1970s and 1980s.”

That said, Texas is beginning to see a downturn in its economy, with tens of thousands of layoffs in the energy industry. As high crime rates have been associated with economic downturns, Werth says it’s perceived economic inequality that has been proven to have an effect on crime.

“These reports absolutely have an effect on our perceptions of how safe we feel,” he says. “Reporting of a particularly violent weekend has an effect on our psyche, leading to a perception that crime is increasing. Mere reporting of crime can lead to increased fear. People are curious about crime, but we must separate anomaly from trend.”