A slight increase in overall crime was a key finding of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Texas Crime report for 2019, which was released by the agency on Sept. 4.
The report was compiled from data submitted to the DPS Uniform Crime Reporting Bureau by 1,207 sheriffs and chiefs of police, and this year’s report is the last of its kind. In January 2021, reporting agencies will adopt the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), replacing the Summary Reporting System (SRS) now in use. The new system is intended to correct some “weakness,” including:
• SRS records eight “index crimes” but not other criminal activity like extortion, kidnapping, child pornography, sex and drug trafficking, organized crime and terrorism
• SRS records the most serious crime committed during a single criminal incident, but not the actual number and types of crimes committed.
In 2019, Texas had a crime rate of 2,779.3 crimes per 100,000 population, which represents an increase of 0.1% over 2018 and was based on a Census Bureau population estimate of 28,995,881. The Index Crime Volume in 2019 was 805,879, which is an increase of 1.1% from the volume of crimes in 2018. The violent crime rate increased by 0.5% from 2018, and the violent crime volume increased by 1.1%. The property crime rate increased by 0.5% from 2018, and the property crime volume increased by 1.0% from 2018.
There were 4,838 assaults on police officers last year, a 4.8% increase over the number reported in 2018. Nine Texas officers were killed in the line of duty, including two in San Marcos, and 5 died in duty-related vehicle crashes.
Regarding mass attacks in public places, Texas led the nation in active shooter events, with six of the nation’s 28 active shooter incidents, killing 36 people and wounding 52 others. According to the United States Secret Service, Texas had 3 of the nation’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.
Texas has led the nation in modernizing response tactics to mass killings in public places by active shooters, the report says. In the aftermath of the attacks in El Paso and Odessa/Midland, Governor Greg Abbott established a multi-disciplinary task force comprised of state legislators and subject matter experts to seek ways to better detect and prevent mass attacks before they occur. Abbott directed DPS to work closely with its local, state and federal partners to prevent future attacks, and three were prevented in 2019.
Individual cities within Hays County were not tracked, but the county overall, which had a 2019 population of 96,611, saw an overall 1% drop in crime, also experienced decreases in the incidence of murder, robbery, assault and burglary. Rape, theft and auto theft all rose between 2018 and 2019.
Austin saw an increase of 5.9% in its crime rate, while the crime index rose by 7.3%.