Murder rate in Houston up over 40%, Gov. Abbott deploys resources in other cities to combat increase in violent crime

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HOUSTON, TX – The city of Houston is dealing with an uptick in murder, much like many other cities in the country.

While Houston is dealing with the aforementioned, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is reportedly sending state police to assist with other cities plagued with an increases in crime. 

Tori Boren, a Houston Crime Scene Investigator, spoke about her recent homicide crime scenes she worked in the city lately: 

“I had a double homicide…two guys, shot inside of a vehicle. The next night we had a homicide at a gentlemen’s club, [then the next night] an aggravated assault where a neighbor shot the downstairs neighbor.”

The 26-year-old investigator has been a CSI for the Houston Forensic Science Center for roughly three years, noting that 2020 seems to be getting worse than years prior: 

“We’re going to multiple scenes a night.”

Which the aforementioned sentiment makes sense – murder is up more than 46% in Houston. When Boren was asked if the reality is worse than what is portrayed on news media, she replied: 

“Oh yeah…oh yeah.”

The CSI team that Boren is a part of hasn’t grown in size since she joined in 2017, despite murders having increased over the years. Just recently, the homicide total within the city reached 350. 

HPD Homicide Commander Belinda Null said that the numerous murders within the city are more than just a “number”, it’s representative of families torn apart by violence: 

“It’s a number on a board. But to us, they are families, loved ones, they’re all people.”

Commander Null also stated that the increase in murders and crime is affecting the HPD as well, as their personnel level forces command staff to make tough decisions on resource allocation: 

“It can be overwhelming…Unfortunately there is a finite number of, of officers we have, and the chiefs have to make decisions about how they need to disperse that manpower in order to be responsive to crime.”

Commander Null noted she’s frequently asked what seems to be driving the increase in violent crime, to which she believes the spike to be multi-faceted: 

“Individuals are suffering. People are isolated, stressed. I think people are quicker to temper, their tempers are quicker to flare. We’ve seen that in a lot of our cases where there’s some type of altercation, which unfortunately is ending in, in violence, that we hadn’t seen really prior to this.”

Reportedly, the HPD homicide division has acquired two more detectives than what it had in 2018 – while 2018 hosted 83 fewer homicides than what 2020 has accumulated so far in the city. 

Moving on to Dallas, Governor Greg Abbott announced on November 18th that – at the request of police officials – he was going to be sending DPS special agents, troopers, intelligence analysts and Texas Rangers to help tackle violent crime in the city. 

In this statement released by the governor, he noted that the spike in crime is “unacceptable”: 

“The rise in violent crime in the city of Dallas is unacceptable, and the Texas Department of Public Safety will assist the Dallas Police Department in their efforts to protect the community and reduce this surge in crime.”

These resources to be deployed by Governor Abbott are said to be assisting with Dallas’ various homicide, gang and drug investigations. State police will also be affording aerial support by way of two helicopters and patrol planes. 

This endeavor is facing some criticism by those who claim it bears a resemblance to “Operation D-Town” from 2019.

Namely because critics were upset that while Dallas hosts a black population of 24%, 64% of the “Operation D-Town” arrests were black suspects in 2019. 

But, that outcome of arrests during the 2019 operation is also hardly surprising.

One need only take into account that outside of alcohol-related crimes (DUI, drunken/disorderly, general liquor laws), FBI crime data shows that black Americans account for a disproportionate amount of numerous crimes when stacked against their national population (roughly 13% of the country). 

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Yet, while crime is soaring in Texas, the soon-to-hold office Travis County DA is more concerned about complaints against police officers rather than surging crime. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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TRAVIS COUNTY, TX – With having secured an overwhelming majority of the votes within the race for the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, Democrat José Garza is presumed to be taking office this upcoming January. 

And among his agenda when assuming office is bringing all alleged cases of police misconduct before a grand jury to seek possible indictments. 

Travis County District Attorney-elect José Garza appeared on an interview on with a local news station on November 4th to discuss his positions when he reaches office. 

When speaking about one of his top priorities, he mentioned that “one of the first cases” he wants put before a grand jury is that of the police-involved shooting of Mike Ramos

“It’s one of the first cases that we will take a look at when I take office in January. My heart continues to break for the Ramos family that they have had to wait so long for justice.”

But it’s not just this one case that Garza is pushing to go before a grand jury. He’s aiming to have every allegation of police misconduct reviewed by grand juries: 

“We’ve been clear throughout this campaign that we think our community needs to have the power to decide whether a law enforcement officer has engaged in misconduct.”

Outgoing district attorney Margaret Moore had originally intended for the Ramos case to go before a grand jury back in August of 2020, but after having lost the Democratic primary to Garza, she thought it best to wait for the outcome of the election to handle the matter. 

When remarking on the relatively large margin by which Garza presumably defeated Republican Martin Harry for the position of the county DA (which was reportedly close to 70% of the ballots cast), Garza claims that Travis County voters have proverbially spoken on what they want from a DA: 

“The voters in Travis County sent a clear and resounding message [on November 3rd]. They expect a criminal justice system that’s fair and equal for everyone — regardless of the color of their skin, how much income they have or their immigration status.

“That’s the system that we set out to build, one that meets the aspirations of our community.”

The case revolving around the Ramos shooting has been one of contention within the Austin area, which is the city where the police-involved shooting occurred back in April of 2020. 

On April 24th at approximately 6:31 p.m., a 911 call came in regarding an incident within an apartment complex parking lot off of South Pleasant Valley Road in Austin. 

The 911 caller had reported that two people inside of a gold and black Prius at the Rosemont at Oak Valley Apartments were reportedly using drugs and the male occupant had a firearm in their possession. 

During the 911 call, the caller alleged that the male occupant was pointing the firearm toward the female occupant inside of the Prius. 

When police arrived on the scene, they located the described vehicle from the 911 call and the man inside of the driver’s seat was later identified as Mike Ramos. 

An exchange between officers on the scene and Ramos ensued, with officers instructing Ramos to get out of the vehicle with his hands up. 

Officers repeatedly instructed Ramos to exit the vehicle with his hands up, which Ramos eventually did. Police then told Ramos to lift his shirt up and turn around in a circle, so as to see if Ramos had any weapons concealed in his waistband. 

At this point, Ramos begins moving back toward the vehicle’s driver’s side door. When officers were telling Ramos to walk towards them, he instead opted to argue and remained next to the driver’s side door of the car. 

After repeatedly refusing to comply with officers, an impact round was shot at Ramos. After getting hit, he jumped back into the car and started to drive off. 

When Ramos was driving off, officers on the scene opened fire at the vehicle. The suspect later died at the hospital. 

The controversy around the shooting itself is whether lethal force was justified in the moments officers opened fire when Ramos was attempting to flee the area. 

Authorities say that no gun was ever recovered from Ramos or his vehicle after the fatal shooting. 

We won’t know further details about this investigation until a grand jury reviews the evidence and determines if charges are warranted against any of the responding officers from that incident. 

Please follow Law Enforcement Today to receive updates as this investigation progresses. 

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