FBI Data: Wichita Falls Homicide Rate Up

The FBI's Crime in the United States report for 2009 shows Wichita Falls had a spike in homicides. Between the Falls' first murder on Jan 1 and the final in the last week of December, there were 11 lives lost. That's up from 4 each year in 2007 and 2008.

Wichita Falls Police Sergeant Bill Henning says that in the long run, though, it was an average year for homicide rates. "The average is 10.7 since 1979".

Henning says there is no real explanation for the numbers, but he feels that some programs in place, such as the Gang Unit are helping to curb the trend. "I can't tell you how many gang members would be dead this year, but I can tell you just by having (The Gang Unit Director) and his unit out there stopping these shootings must have reduced some of our homicides."

The data shows that overall, violent crime is on a downward trend in Wichita Falls. The FBI prefaces the crime report with a caution about rating cities by numbers alone. The agency says there are too many variables that come into play for it to truly be apples to apples. Looking at the data from other similar Texas cities, the homicide rate in Wichita Falls is much higher. For example, McAllen has 30,000 more people but only 4 homicides. Abilene is slightly bigger, but only had 7.

Henning said it is not apple-to-apples. "Each city is different... I don't know what Abilene's makeup or population is or their workforce is compared to ours." He says the issue goes beyond the statistics, "...anytime you have a murder it's a concern, and I don't want you to forget the victims or the victims' families... These are people we are dealing with, even if we have one it's a tremendous loss".