KHOU: HPD is undercounting homicides

This is a stunning discovery by KHOU-11's Mark Greenblatt:

In murder after murder and case after case, KHOU has discovered the Houston Police Department has found ways to wipe homicides off the books.

They don’t report them for Uniform Crime Report purposes.

The result?

An undercounting of how many murders take place in Houston, leaving some cases un-investigated and even possible murderers walking our streets.

“Cases that are clear cut homicides are not being counted,” said Dr. James Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University.

He has gained worldwide attention for his expertise in homicide cases. Further, the U.S. Department of Justice trusts him to maintain a federal database on homicides.

11 News: Do you believe the City of Houston is lying to the public?

Fox: “Well someone is. Someone knows because someone is making these calls.”

What’s he talking about?

In 2006, HPD reported 377 murders to the FBI, and 334 in 2005.

But over that same time period, 11 News found nearly 30 homicides left off the books that experts say should have been counted.

Further, dozens more remain in question after HPD would not release case files to KHOU to review.

And if the Department had reported just two of many 2005 homicides we found?

It would have changed Houston’s national murder rate ranking, moving Houston past Dallas as the murder capital of Texas and into second place in the nation for cities with a population larger than 1 million.

Further, Fox says police undercounting might have lead to another serious consequence.

“Well a crime was committed and someone is not being charged with that crime,” he said.

A murderer is walking around, free to kill again. And HPD's response?

We're told the department won’t allow a single person out of their 6,000 employees to go on camera and explain its decisions.

That includes police Chief Harold Hurtt, who formally declined our repeated requests to talk.

HPD did issue a written statement, which says in part:

"We are in the process of looking into the cases you have brought to our attention.”

Wow.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/20/07 09:08 AM | Print |

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