Here's why the number of murders in SA has declined over 3 years

SAN ANTONIO – According to the San Antonio Police Department, there were 149 murders reported in 2016.

In 2017, SAPD recorded 125 murders, and in 2018, the number of murders slipped to 107.

So why are we seeing fewer murders in the Alamo City over the three-year period?

According to Milo Colton, a criminology professor at St Mary's University, the number of murders decreasing is not a new trend.

"In the early '90s when I was first looking at it (murder statistics), we had well over 200 a year. Now we're close to 100," Colton said.

San Antonio is one of the nation's fastest-growing cities, so how can the number of murders decrease if the population is increasing? 

Colton said a big part of the answer has to do with job opportunities.

"In November of 2018, we were at the lowest unemployment rate we've been in 42 years," he said.

The unemployment rate in San Antonio at the time was 3.1 percent. Currently, it's at 3.4 percent, which Colton said reflects a local economy rich with career choices.

"You have all kinds (of careers). You have military, you have finance, you have health, you have education, (and) you've got tourism," Colton said. "Where you have jobs, you have economic opportunity, you have less violent crime."

Colton said the notion also supports data that shows violent crimes are most prevalent in impoverished communities, like District 5, where the city's website shows the median household income just over $28,500. 

The SAPD Crime Tracker Map shows more than a dozen murders in District 5 within a year's span since March 2018.

"You have to increase opportunity within those neighborhoods. And for those demographic groups, that means making education affordable and accessible," Colton said.

Colton said progressive restorative justice models, such as the city's new Cite and Release program could help lower the violent crime rates in underserved communities. 

No criminal record means more opportunity, which he said translates to less violence.

About the Authors: