HOUSTON -In mid-April, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner made his position clear once again regarding crime in Houston.
“We are going to do everything that we can do in order to reduce criminal activity in this city,” said Turner.
His statements came as the city homicide rate was running roughly 10% higher than last year.
Homicides are one of the most pivotal areas for law enforcement as the solving of a case can not help prevent another, but it can also bring closure to a family.
Marnita Hinton has been waiting desperately for that closure for 18 months now.
“I need to know something about my son’s case,” said Hinton in a recent interview at her son’s gravesite.
Hinton said Houston Police Department homicide detectives have made little progress in the shooting death of her son, Christopher Mena, at a Walgreens in Sunnyside back in November 2020.
“They want me to just wait until something has come up,” said Hinton.
Hinton said the entire experience has made her feel like a statistic.
“It tells me that I’m just another number,” she explained.
When it comes to clearance numbers, HPD’s homicide said they are closing out nearly 10% more cases than last year.
Currently, the department sits at 60%, but 80% when factoring in the identification of a suspect. However, it is far lower than where HPD was 15 years ago, according to the department’s union.
Doig Griffith, president of HPD’s union, said this is partly because a number of veteran HPD homicide detectives retired in the mid-2000s.
“A lot of them went in a small amount of time,” Griffith said.
Griffith added that the department hasn’t been able to gain that experience back. However, he does say that a program is being developed to better train young homicide investigators with the end goal being getting better results for grieving families.
“As they start to get more and more cases under their belt, the clearance rates will go up,” said Griffith.
As for those families that are still in search of answers?
HPD Homicide Commander Kevin Deese told KPRC 2 Investigates that he understands their frustration.
“I tell you, my heart goes out to those families,” Deese said.
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