SAN ANTONIO – Despite an overall drop in violent crime last year, homicides spiked dramatically, according to preliminary crime statistics from the San Antonio Police Department.
The annual crime statistics, which San Antonio Police Chief William McManus presented to the city council’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, show a 2.1% increase in overall crime driven by a 4.4% jump in property crimes.
Although the total number of violent crimes fell by 9.1% from 2020 to 2021, homicides jumped to 160 - the highest number since 1994. That’s a 23% increase from the 130 reported in 2020.
A KSAT analysis of police records show more than half of the killings still remain unsolved.
McManus told media members before the committee meeting that many of the homicides in 2021 didn’t follow an organized pattern.
“They seem to be random, spontaneous - all over the city,” he said.
According to his presentation, 14% of homicides were attributed to family or intimate partner violence. Another 3.36% were attributed to arguments, while 28.7% had “unknown” factors.
Smaller amounts between 1% and 3.2% were linked to theft, narcotics, prostitution, mental health, or gang violence.
Slide below shared by SAPD.
The chief also trotted out a familiar refrain to reporters and the council committee - that engaging in “high risk” activity, like being in a gang, soliciting prostitution, or buying or selling drugs, raises the chances of being a violent crime victim.
District 3 Councilwoman Phyllis Viagran latched onto that as a reason to resist a cite-and-release ordinance for the city.
“Your risk, if you are involved in any sort of criminal element, even if it’s just ‘but all I do is, you know, I just want a little bit of recreational drugs.’ You still put yourself at risk,” she said. “With the stats we see now, I want my council colleagues to consider that now is not the time for a cite and release ordinance.”
San Antonio police already participate in a cite-and-release program for several low-level misdemeanor offenses, including marijuana possession, though there has been a push to enshrine some form of the program in an ordinance to make it more permanent.
McManus told KSAT that he’s fine with cite-and-release so long as his officers retain the discretion on whether or not to arrest someone.
However, he also told the public safety committee about a meeting he had with some other Texas police chiefs. Across the state and country, the chief said, “We’re seeing the results of criminal justice reform where we are lowering bonds, where we are utilizing (personal recognizance) bonds, probably more than ever before.”
“It’s clearly visible on the street that there’s no fear of consequence for committing a criminal act. And I’m talking about from drug dealing to - and you name it,” McManus said.
The chief took pains to say the recent so-called “Constitutional Carry” law, which allows people legally allowed to have handguns to carry them without seeking a license to carry, was not behind the city’s gun violence issues.
“The people who are not allowed legally to carry guns were carrying them before this law was passed,” McManus told reporters. “And they’re the ones that are doing these shootings, not the ones who are legally carrying.”
Also on KSAT.com: