Violent crime rates go up as more intercession is ordered

Violent crime rates go up as more intercession is ordered

Numbers are still not finalized for 2016. However, preliminary information available nationally suggests most cities have seen a spike in the number of violent crimes committed, according to information compiled at the Department of Justice. And Southeast Texas is no exception.

The semi-annual figures indicate, DOJ reports, “Law enforcement agencies throughout the nation showed an overall increase of 5.3 percent in the number of violent crimes brought to their attention for the first six months of 2016 when compared with figures reported for the same time in 2015” in categories including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crimes like burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft decreased a fraction of a percent, continuing a multi-year decline nationally.

In Beaumont, not only does the preliminary data show upward movement in violent crimes committed in 2016, but also more homicides have been reported so far in 2017 than in the first half of 2016. The alarming rate of violent crimes being committed in the city has sparked not only police and prosecutor action, but also community support as preachers, parents and stakeholders join forces to address the issue. However, it’s not just a local trend.

More than 1,700 shootings in the city of Chicago this year alone has caused citizens in fear of their safety to beg for presidential intervention in the form of the National Guard. Closer to home, in Houston, last week federal agents also announced escalating violent crime rates are spurring new initiatives to combat the growing problem.

Thursday, June 29, Houston area federal, state and local law enforcement agencies came together to announce a collaborative initiative to proactively fight violent crime across their area. Beaumont police, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas stationed in Beaumont also made similar announcements this past month, with efforts akin to our neighbors to the west.

Houston’s efforts address intelligence integration, strategic support, working groups and resources, and offer training among the agencies such as investigator training on details of developing a violent crime case using the Hobbs Act, VICAR and RICO. And, as part of the overall effort, several agencies will work together on initiatives designed to target violent offenders in high-crime areas such as the 1960 corridor as well as integrate data from partnering agencies such as the ATF’s Integrated Ballistic Information Network, which is used to identify shooters and connect specific guns to multiple crime scenes.

Houston’s efforts are being supplanted by the DOJ as the city was recently named one of 12 cities to join the Department of Justice’s newly-organized National Public Safety Partnership (PSP) that provides a framework for enhancing federal support of state, local and tribal law enforcement officials and prosecutors as they aggressively investigate and pursue violent criminals, specifically those involved in gun crime, drug trafficking and gang violence.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced June 20 that 12 cities (including Houston, but not including Chicago) are now comprising the PSP, as the new initiative takes over where the pilot concept known as the Violence Reduction Network leaves off.

“Turning back the recent troubling increase in violent crime in our country is a top priority of the Department of Justice and the Trump Administration, as we work to fulfill the president’s promise to make America safe again,” said Attorney General Sessions. “The Department of Justice will work with American cities suffering from serious violent crime problems. There is no doubt that there are many strategies that are proven to reduce crime. Our new National Public Safety Partnership program will help these communities build up their own capacity to fight crime by making use of data-driven, evidence-based strategies tailored to specific local concerns, and by drawing upon the expertise and resources of our Department.”

In cities such as Houston, the DOJ has instituted a “Diagnostic Approach,” which includes an 18-month commitment from partnering agencies, stakeholder relationship building, governance structure and leadership analysis, capacity building, data collection and analysis, and community engagement in violence reduction strategies.

Data and information used in training and assisting in these endeavors is publicly available, even to agencies and interested individuals and organizations not encompassed in the initial 12 PSP partnering agencies. Anyone wanting to learn more about tackling violent crime in their community, neighborhood, or home can check out, where the National Public Safety Partnership hosts a data clearinghouse filled with resources to assist in that quest. Training videos, printed publications, tip sheets, and points for talking to community leaders to achieve a desired outcome are all available on the organization’s website, as are research briefs, annual reports, Webinars and podcasts.

Jennifer Johnson can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 231, or by e-mail at jennifer [at] theexaminer [dot] com.