According to statistics from the Houston Police Department, there were 216 murders in Houston in 2012, which is 18 more than we had in 2011, but still the second-lowest number of murders in our city since 1966, continuing what officials don't want to suggest might be a trend given how unpredictable these crimes can be. Considering there were half the number of residents living in Houston in 1966 and the fact that the first quarter of 2012 saw a 27 percent rise in murders over the same time period in 2011, the relatively low number is even more significant.
In the unincorporated areas of Harris County -- an area that has over one-and-a-half million residents -- there were only 63 reported murders in the entire year. That is an eye-popping stat when you consider places like Baton Rouge had 67 this year.
These are also encouraging numbers when looking nationally at numbers that have increased over the past year. Chicago recorded more than 500 homicides in 2012 and Detroit had 375 as of December 16, though New York City saw 414 people murdered there, the lowest number since 1963.
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While no one should be patting themselves on the back for 200-plus murders in Houston, our violent-crime rate is still one of the best in the nation when it comes to big cities. But that doesn't make it any easier for families and friends of the victims counted among the 216 on that list.