Monday, August 14, 2006

AP: Katrina victims blamed for Houston crime

A quick pass-along of one of the top stories on Yahoo, an AP story on Katrina evacuees and the rise in Houston crime.

"I don't think Texas really knows what they got," Martin said (Louisiana bounty hunter frequently traveling to Texas).

Katrina sent a lot of bad guys to Texas, as Houston is finding out.

Houston took in 150,000 evacuees — the most of any U.S. city — after Katrina struck on Aug. 29. Houston police believe the evacuees are partly responsible for a nearly 17.5 percent increase in homicides so far this year over the same period in 2005.

About 21 percent of Houston's 232 homicides through July 25 involved an evacuee as either a suspect or a victim, according to police, who attribute much of the bloodshed to fighting among rival New Orleans gang members.


Judge Robert Eckels, chief executive of Harris County, which includes Houston, said Katrina evacuees arrested in the Houston have cost the county's criminal justice system more than $18 million.

Quite a few other quotes in there too, including Eckels. Tough talk, but no matter how you spin it, it's expensive in dollars, victims, fear, and image.


At 8:25 PM, August 14, 2006, Blogger Owen Courrèges said...

I think it's pretty clear than the influx of New Orleans gangs has caused a spike in Houston's murder rate, for no other reason than the fact that these gangs tend to kill each other at an alarming rate.

On the other hand, in virtually every other category of crime, New Orleans does better than Houston. You're less likely to be robbed, assaulted, burglarized, raped, etc., in New Orleans than Houston. Overall, you're less safe in Houston than New Orleans, and that's been true for some time despite the murder rate here, which consists mostly drug killings.

One of the bad things about Katrina is that it has allowed public officials in Houston to cover up for the burgeoning crime problem and police shortage by simply blaming the refugees, when in actuality Houston had problems all along that it simply wasn't dealing with. It's scapegoating at its worst.

At 4:51 AM, August 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems that the tragedy of Katrina had gone beyond the losses of lives and possessions caused by the forces of nature, into greater losses caused by acts of man.

At 8:35 AM, August 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Owen, the numbers are not as skewed as you claim, though your point about the murder rate is correct. Some Houston categories are higher, some lower. And, the article correctly pointed out that Houston's overall crime rate was dropping prior to Katrina, though its murder rate was slightly increasing.

I don't think Katrina allowed city officials to cover up its police shortage. To the contrary, Katrina blatantly exposed it. You will notice that virtually all of the efforts to boost overtime, reassign officers and accelerate recruiting and training classes occurred AFTER the evacuees arrived.

I do agree with you however, that the murder rate is not indicative of how safe a city is. Further, a 17.5% increase in murders does not translate to 17.5% more crime in general. Even with the increase, Houston's murder rate is less than 1/3 of New Orleans' rate, and still less than Dallas' murder rate. But, that doesn't make for a good article.

And, I would NEVER rely on a bounty hunter as the basis for an article.

At 9:06 AM, August 15, 2006, Blogger Owen Courrèges said...


>>I don't think Katrina allowed city officials to cover up its police shortage. To the contrary, Katrina blatantly exposed it.<<

You figure? The way I see it, the problem was there, but Mayor White, Chief Hurtt, etc., have emphasized the Katrina factor to make it appear that the refugee crisis CAUSED the crime problem, and now the police, which were fine before, are now overstrapped as a result of the influx. So instead of a gradual problem that merely came to a head, it's supposed to be caused by an unforeseen disaster.

At 9:49 AM, August 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps this is semantics, but it seems they are making EXCUSES now, as opposed to a coverup. Everyone knows about the shortage now, while only a few talked about it before Katrina. Therefore, the coverup, if there was one, occurred prior to the storm, not after.

At 1:12 PM, August 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Houston should have built some "special" showers in the Astrodome.... problem would have been solved.


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