SAN ANTONIO – Violent crime took a plunge in 2017, but the number of homicides is still the second highest since 2011.
On Thursday, during a uniform crime report presentation Police Chief William McManus described the mad dash to cut violent crime set off by a nationwide spike in 2016.
"2016 was an off year for the whole country for violent crime and to complicate that, there wasn't anyone who could explain why the crime spiked," McManus said.
That spurred the creation of San Antonio's Violent Crimes Task Force, comprised of local, state and federal agencies.
"There was a discussion internally about whether or not an increase in arrests, an increased in targeted, intelligence-driven policing, would have an impact on crime at the end of the year. Quite frankly, I had my doubts that it would, but I was proven wrong," McManus said.
McManus said he was proud to report that in 2017 there was a 16 percent drop in homicides and a 6 percent drop in Part One crimes, which include murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, vehicle theft and arson.
"The 2017 crime statistics show the chief and the city's smart targeted approach and how our officers work are making a real difference," said Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
Some operations directly targeted one East Side gang, which McManus said was responsible for much of the escalating violence in that region of the city.
"There was an operation where we targeted a group of specific gang members and we basically gutted them and that was all based on federal charges and since then that type of violent crime has dissipated," he said.
After a violent year like 2016, the drop in homicides is significant, but the 2017 numbers are still 33 percent higher than 2015.
There were 94 homicides in 2015, 149 homicides in 2016 and 125 homicides in 2017.
Regardless, McManus strongly believes continuing the current trajectory will lower crime even further, putting his faith in his officers.
"It's tough going out there at 110 percent every day and they did it last year and they did it well and the trick this year is to go above and beyond what we did last year and we fully intend to do that," he said.
Mcmanus also credited community members with last year's drop in crime. He said conversations about crime, community watch groups and communication with officers has significantly helped police investigations.
In addition, he said San Antonio will be joining the state's Texas Anti-Gang (TAG) program.