TEXAS, USA — A Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) crime report for 2019 shows an increase in the state’s violent crime rate, up 0.5% from 2018. The report also shows the property crime rate increased by 0.5% from 2018.
DPS said these numbers were driven by certain challenges in 2019, including mass attacks in public places, increasing gang- and drug-related violence in major urban areas of the state and a high number of arrested and/or convicted felony offenders committing crimes after their release.
There were 4,838 assaults on police officers during 2019, a 4.8% increase from 2018. DPS said nine officers were killed on duty, while five died in duty-related car crashes.
According to the FBI, Texas led the nation in active shooter events in 2019, with six of the country’s 28 active shooter incidents, killing 36 people and wounding 52 others. Texas had three of the country’s 34 mass attacks in public places in 2019, killing 33 people.
“Although these tragic deaths represent only 2.5% of the 1,403 murders that occurred in 2019, mass attacks in public places have a reverberating impact across the state and an enduring impact in the communities in which they occur,” the report said.
According to DPS, three attacks were prevented in 2019 as part of a response plan to better detect potential threats.
“This public safety threat is often difficult to detect and requires constant vigilance by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, the public and the private sector,” the report said.
Statewide, the violent crime rate was up 0.5% in 2019, though many law enforcement agencies in Texas experienced decreases in violent crime.
Increases, however, were seen in the state’s four largest cities – Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Police chiefs in these cities attribute a sizable portion of that violence to Mexican cartels operating drug transshipment and retail distribution within the cities, in collaboration with gangs involved in violent crime.
The report said there are 78,363 documented gang members in statewide database TxGANG, with 54.24% of them entered into TxGANG by law enforcement in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties.
San Antonio saw the largest increase, with the violent crime rate there up 13% from 2018. Dallas saw a 12.4% increase; Austin saw a 5.9% increase and Houston had a 4.1% increase.
While the four cities represent 21.4% of the population of Texas, 43% of the state’s violent crime incidents took place in these cities in 2019 (52,650 of 120,508).
The report also concluded recidivism was a contributing factor in violent crime increases.
“In 2019, 74.59% of those who were convicted for felony offenses in Harris County had previously been convicted of a felony, 67.72% in Dallas County, 62.48% in Bexar County and 78.83% in Travis County,” the report says. “Of the 689,109 individuals arrested by Texas law enforcement officers in 2019, 70.32% had previously been arrested.”
Of the four cities, Dallas is the only one to not report a continued increase in violent crime for the first six months of 2020.
Texas has established seven Texas Anti-Gang Centers across the state – located in Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Antonio, Tyler and one to be established in Waco – to detect and prosecute gangs that pose the most significant threat to Texans.
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