Crime statistics continue to confuse Chron reporters, editors
The Chronicle's Mike Glenn reports somewhat positive news on Houston's murder rate for January 1-30 in 2007 (24) compared to January 2006 (30). We're not quite sure why January of this year was cut short by one day, but we're even less sure about this characterization:
The city recorded six fewer homicides in January than during the same time last year, Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt said Thursday.
From Jan. 1-30, there were 24 homicides in the city, a slight decrease from the 30 slayings the city reported in January 2006, he said.
The murder rate is still too high, but we would submit that a 20% decline is more than a "slight decrease."
Percentages do seem to confound Chronicle reports and editors when it comes to crime reporting. In a January 2007 story on crime, the newspaper characterized an estimated 7.5% increase in Houston's population as "massive," yet contended that a homicide rate that increased 5.57% from 2005 to 2006 "hardly changed at all."
If Chronicle reporters and editors are so easily confused about how to interpret crime statistics, maybe a good practice would be to stop editorializing about the changes and stick to reporting the raw numbers.