Murder By the Numbers

THE MAP IN THE NEW YORK TIMES made the news look grim: In the first half of 1995, Dallas’ murder rate shot up 13.1 percent, while Houston’s declined 32 percent. So much for Police Chief Ben Click’s claim that violent crime in Dallas is down.

But wait a minute. During the first six months of 1995, Dallas had 147 murders, compared to Houston’s 138. Not exactly a big difference, and mostly attributable to a “July spike,” when 38 people were slain in Dallas.

And take a look around the country. Philadelphia was down 6.1 percent-and still had 199 murders during 1995’s first half. Washington, D.C., down 10.3 percent, lost 208 citizens. And although Chicago’s murder rate plunged 18.8 percent, the city still recorded an astonishing 388 slayings.

That’s small comfort to the families of Dallas murder victims-but a reminder of the need to keep the numbers in perspective. The real news is that multiple homicides are up. In the first half of 1995, Dallas had eight doubles, three triples, and one quadruple homicide.

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