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New Houston Police Figures Show Dramatic Rise in Solved Crimes


New crime figures show more arrests being made when crimes are committed in Houston, Local 2 Investigates reported Monday.

The Houston Police Department is reporting a dramatic jump in the number of rapes, robberies and felony assaults being solved when compared to past years, according to the latest internal monthly breakdown of HPD statistics.

"I'm happy that they're catching people and the percentages of catching criminals is going up. That's definitely a good thing," southwest Houston business owner Pam Contreras said.

HPD leaders credit more crimes being caught on security surveillance cameras and more involvement from citizens with much of the improvements.

"Citizens are more willing to help us. We also feel that there's a lot of people that are fed up being victims of crime, and so they're not only helping us on their case, they're helping us on other cases," Assistant Houston Police Chief George Buenik said.

Violent Crimes

Felony assaults, including those where weapons are used, resulted in arrests in 56.8 percent of the 7,030 cases reported from January through July 2011, the latest HPD figures available. That compares with 55.1 percent of the cases being cleared during the same period in 2010, and it's nearly twice as good as the 29.3 percent crime-solving rate of 2007.

For murders, 97.1 percent of the cases were solved or cleared so far in 2011, compared with 92 percent in 2010. In 2009, at this stage, 68.7 percent of the crimes were solved and 35.1 percent were solved in 2008.

Robberies resulted in arrests in 27.5 percent of the 4,490 cases reported through July. In 2010, 27.7 percent of the cases were solved, which is a higher clearance rate, but it compared with 23.7 percent in 2009 and 17.5 percent in 2007.

Rapes did not fare as well in the latest numbers. Of the 453 sexual assaults reported this year, 49.2 percent resulted in an arrest, compared with a stronger number of 55.9 percent of the cases solved last year. In 2008, the clearance rate for rapes was 35.1 percent for the first seven months of the year.

Non-Violent Crimes

Thefts were solved 15.6 percent of the time this year, compared with 12.6 percent in 2007.

Of the 14,781 burglaries reported through July, 8.3 percent resulted in an arrest, which is about the same as last year.

Car thefts are resulting in fewer prosecutions. Of the 6,793 cars stolen through July, 6.5 percent of those cases were cleared. That number is down from last year when 7.2 percent of the car thefts resulted in an arrest. In 2007, the rate was 6.8 percent for clearing the cases.

"I think more needs to be solved," said Debbie Guess as she learned about the figures at her southwest Houston home. "That's not a very high percentage rate of solving,;no it's not. It should be higher."

But Buenik said the strong numbers should continue improving.

"Moving forward, we think we're even going to have higher clearance rates and better success in solving crimes," he said.

He gives some of the credit to 600 tips to Crime Stoppers every month.

A special detail known as "Investigative First Responder" unit, which was formed in 2008, is also getting credit.

"We have immediate response and follow-up on crimes," said Buenik. "We have … officers in uniform and patrol cars actively doing detective work, following up on investigative leads. We're able to quickly identify suspects. We're able to take statements from witnesses. We're able to solve and clear the crimes immediately, where, in the past, we really weren't doing that."

He also said overall crime rates being down citywide has allowed detectives more time to clear backlogged cases and solve new ones.

Overall crime numbers for Houston through July of 2011 show violent crimes down 9.6 percent and non-violent crimes down 11.2 percent. That adds up to an overall crime reduction of 10.9 percent so far this year, compared with last year.

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