CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New Orleans' Crime Down, Houston's Crime Up--Is there a Katrina Link?

Back in November, I blogged about New Orleans' lack of crime post-Katrina.  Peter Scharf, executive director of the Center for Society, Law and Justice at the University of New Orleans, explained that New Orleans' criminal population largely had been evacuated along with Katrina's other victims, and taken in by other Southeastern cities--Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta, to name a few.  Scharf concluded that the host cities hadn't experienced a noticeable increase in crime, but officials in Houston take exception to that conclusion.  The City of Houston has asked FEMA to create a Police Task Force to handle the sharp increase in homicides and other crimes in areas hosting some of Houston's 150,000 Katrina evacuees for the past four months. [Mark Godsey]

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Actually, while homicides went up, index crime went down in Houston overall in 2005. See:

Keep in mind that Houston's regrettably higher homicide rate this year, around 324 murders so far, is still far lower than 15 years ago, when the city was much smaller and had 608 murders in 1991. Perhaps some or all of this year's increase was caused by Katrina, but Houston's homicide rate has experienced even bigger swings in the recent past without any identifiable, causal point source.

Congrats on your DNA exoneration case, Mark, and happy new year to all at CrimProf blog.

Posted by: Scott | Dec 28, 2005 10:08:57 AM

When will people come around to the realization that the sudden spike in Houston's violent crime rate is a direct result of the Hurricane Katrina evacuees in our city?
Is a 70% jump in murder in the months of November and December just a coincidence?
Perhaps everyone knows the Hurricane Katrina evacuees are the cause of the jump in murder and other hanus crimes, but everyone is just too scared of the political correctness hounds?

It looks like the Mayor saw an opportunity to look like a hero in the eye's of the
Country and further strengthen his political career (nothing wrong with that), while the good residents of Houston were blinded by compassion and emotion, as to who they were really welcoming, with open arms, into our great city.
We are now stuck with the worst of the worst that New Orleans had to offer.

We all know not everyone of the Hurricane Katrina evacuees are the cause of the homicide and other violent crime spike, but it sure did not take long, after the buses started arriving, before our local news became much more gruesome.

Houston was not the safest city before, but it certainly is much less safe now.
I certainly hope the HPD and other fine law enforcement agencies have the resources and strength to end this new trend!

Posted by: RC | Jan 4, 2006 7:12:04 AM

Here is a letter I sent to the Mayor. Maybe everyone in the city should send something:

Mr. Bill White:

I hope you're having a great week. I have lived in the Houston area all of my life and never have I seen more crime in this city than I have this past year. I know you may have thought it was a great idea to bring in the Louisiana refugees because of receiving support from the government and felt it was the right thing to do morally, but I wish you would have considered the consequences of doing so. I have lived in the Westchase area in a condo complex for nearly 3 years. No crime was ever committed in the complex the first 2 years I was there, but only in the past 6 months there have been at least 10 reports of robberies and other crimes in the complex. The whole city is being taken over by Louisiana criminals. This is unacceptable. Everyone in the city is talking about it. It's the only concern on everyone's minds.

I really hope you're doing something to fix this situation and stop this huge increase in criminal activity. Since you have all of these funds from the government, why don't you use some of them to bring in the Texas National Guard to help control the outbreak.

I have seriously considered leaving Houston, for this simple reason. I, and I'm sure others, refuse to live like this. I am also looking to apply for a concealed handgun license, something I would have never considered in the past.

I hope you really see how severe this situation is. I also, really hope you take further action than any you have already taken.

Thank you,

A concerned Houstonian

Posted by: Houstonian | Jan 24, 2006 12:09:23 PM

Hello Houston,I'm a songwriter from new orleans,I was just on the news wednesday 1-25-06 channel 11 Elieen Gonzalas 6:00pm editon of the news pleading to get help from being evicted as
the evition notice stated by Feb.28th-06 because the state and fema can't get along the stress was almost unbearable there have been one family who's commited murder/sucide because of the treat of eviction my tv apperance paid off we recieve a last minute reprive from the head of the housing attority we have been treated as if we prayed for Katrina to sweep us to Texas well that's not the case, there are bad apples in every bunch and for the bad apples that have fallen in your state I appollgize personally because this is truly an embarasment to all the desent and God Fearing People From New Orleans
I have been trying to support myself and my family by selling my booklets of poetry I'll be gracious enough to treat you to a few samples of my work "At The Mercy Of Strangers"I felt as if I was riding a wave then suddenly the earth was dry,I felt so confused and lost yet there was no time to cry, Finally I was left alone with my thoughts without the facade, my mind tried to deny what I knew to be true in my heart, I got a glimpse at the end of the world, Katrina was a mean one she didn't discriminate at all she gave new meaning to a woman scorned, thousands were suddenly displaced,some are no longer on this earth, after Katrina brought down her wrath for many there was nothing left, after some of the shock had worn off and I was no longer in danger, I found myself"At The Mercy Of Strangers"
Tina Marie Clark@2005 I hope this poem explains that we had no idea we would be at the mercy of strangers and now that we find ourselves in such a position we the God Fearing People From New Orleans want to say THANKS NEIGHBOR GOD BLESS YOU ALL

Posted by: Tina Marie Clark | Jan 26, 2006 12:07:32 AM

If you Houston people wouldn't have taken in N.O's criminal element, y'all would not have the crime you have right now. Ship em' elsewhere. Maybe it was a bad idea for Houston to take in New Orleans evacuees. Guess Houston will look forward to what, 650 murders this year?

Posted by: Richard | Feb 15, 2006 12:43:16 PM

first of all they had plenty of crime here before we were even thought about coming here. yall have bloods and crips and all these crazy mexicans. yall just need someone to blame anyway. if yall stop messing with us and stop always having something to say maybe it wouldnt be all this crime. if we can go to school and not have to worry about getting ambushed maybe it wouldnt be all this crime, maybe if yall stop just worrying about us and worry about the houston residents too maybe it wouldnt be all this 15 years old and i attend scarborough high school and i see what we go through everyday so dont come with that about new orleans starting crime here cause that is bullcrap and yall know it.yall just took us in to improve your economy anyway cause yalls was jut as bad as ours............. ya heard me!

Posted by: nisha | Feb 22, 2006 9:00:24 AM

Friday night my brother-in-law was carjacked while in the drive-thru of Jack-n-the box at the corner of 34th and Mangum. 3 men jumped into his car and ordered him to drive them to an apartment complex down the street. With the gun in his face they ordered him to exit the car. When he did the men severely beat him and robbed him. While in the hospital HPD officers told him and my sister that they are doing all they can but all of the apartments in that area are full of Katrina Evacuees and the crime rate and sky rocketed beyond their control. What angers me is that citizens were not even aware that this area was the "second worst hit area" according to HPD with SW area being first. If we knew that this area was so bad I know we all would avoid the area at all cost. So please spread the word about the 34th/43rd area. While at the hospital an ER staff memeber told me that two nights prior to my brother-in-law's carjacking a young woman was robbed at gunpoint and severely beaten at the Blockbuster at the corner of 290 and 34th. Beware of the area.

Posted by: Yvette Munoz | Mar 12, 2006 12:25:06 PM

I lived in the Antoine area until I was forced to move out by thugs (three felonies-no arrests). One will find that when the New Orleans refugees came to Houston, the area apartments were running rental specials. Post Katrina they were at some 98% capacity. These complexes (now projects) are owned by multimillion dollar investment companies. These companies are regular political contributors and they are the recipients of FEMA largess. Texas has what is known as the Texas Public Nuisance Ordinance (look it up). This one law alone. if enforced, would clear most of the problem.
After being repeatedly victimized by criminals, I was labelled a "troublemaker" for calling the police. I was retaliated against by both the apartment management and those advising them. There was no recourse.
There is a great deal of organization behind the criminal activity. The fact that it is subsidized by the government is just the tip of the iceberg.

Posted by: Turd | Oct 7, 2006 8:10:04 AM

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