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Posted on: July 30, 2021

Rise in Domestic Violence Among Challenges Police Faced During Pandemic Year

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MCTX Police Chief Mike Berezin presented the department’s annual report at the July 6, 2021 Regular City Council Meeting.

“It is still quite an honor – and I consider it an extreme privilege – to represent the 138 members of the Missouri City Police Department,” said Chief Berezin.

  • Policing during the COVID-19 pandemic presented several challenges, said Chief Berezin. Data show police dispatchers answered 111,568 calls for service last year.

The Chief highlighted two areas that distinguish Missouri City from its neighbors. One area is in ”self-initiated” activity. Where officers notice criminal or suspicious behavior, said Chief Berezin, “they are taking the initiative themselves to go out and do police work, rather than wait for someone to call on them to do something.”

Another area of distinction is in crimes against persons. “We don’t see a whole lot of crimes against persons routinely,” said Chief Berezin. “We actually have had an uptick in those types of crimes, but as a matter of practice, we really don’t have it compared to some of our neighboring cities.”

The City saw an 11 percent decline in the property crime rate overall, with a 10 percent drop in burglary, a 12 percent decline in larceny (theft), and a 1 percent increase in motor vehicle theft.

“We have such a low crime rate in Missouri City,” said Chief Berezin. “In a five-year comparison, many of our incidents (last year) are well below our five-year high. Property crimes either stayed flat or had a downward trend.”

The Chief explained the slight uptick in car thefts may be due to residents using their garages to store other personal effects instead of their cars. “We might see some of these numbers go down if you put the $300 worth of stuff in your garage in a storage facility, and put your $50,000 car in your garage,” said Chief Berezin. “That would make me very happy.”

Returning to the topic of crimes against persons, Chief Berezin noted that Missouri City has not been plagued by the increase in violent crime of Houston and other major cities. “We’re blessed because we’re not experiencing that,” he said. “But the major increase we did have was in robberies and aggravated assaults. Crooks took advantage of mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Data for 2020 shows there were two murders, up one (or 100 percent) from 2019; 15 rapes, down seven (or 32 percent) since 2019; 41 robberies, up 17 (or 71 percent) from 2019, and 72 aggravated assaults, an increase of 30 (or 71 percent) over 2019.

Chief Berezin said the pandemic stay-at-home orders led to some of the physical violence. “Unfortunately, the majority of those aggravated assaults were family related,” said Chief Berezin. “People are home and I guess they could only put up with each other for so long. We tried to do as much as we can to mitigate that, so they’re not repeat offenders.”

But when viewed as part of a five-year comparison of violent crime rates, the Chief said 2020’s rates were mostly lower than the five-year low.

On a positive note, Chief Berezin said, “The Police Department works diligently to maintain a positive relationship with our community.” He also said Missouri City remains ranked as a safe city – 34th in Texas – by Alarms.org, the official site of the National Council for Home Safety and security, recognized as one of the best rating entities for crime in all jurisdictions. 

police annual report

During 2020, the Police Department also: 

  • Accepted more than 556 pounds of prescription drugs through its Drug Takeback Program.
  • Partnered with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office in the Take Me Home Program. The program identifies and helps special persons in need, particularly those who have trouble communicating.
  • Successfully applied for and received a $30,720 grant from the Texas Department of Public Safety for a STEP Program (overtime to focus on speeder, impaired drivers and distracted drivers).
  • Finished out a two-year grant for Crime Victim Liaison ($93,775 – two-year total)
  • Began Domestic Violence Lethality Screening for officers. This program assists with gathering evidence and prosecution in domestic violence cases, where officers try to determine the probability that a suspect will ramp up activity toward their victim.
  • Used money from drug seizures, under the Texas Chapter 59 statute, to buy the following:
    • Flock camera system for $240,000. The 32-camera system helps neighborhoods, businesses and law enforcement eliminate crime, protect privacy and mitigate bias. It can identify license plates and makes and models of vehicles. Since its inception, this system has reduced crime by 70 percent
    • Faro camera for $67,124. Laser scanner used for crime scene analysis, vehicle crash scene documentation and three-dimensional (3D) mapping systems.
    • Live 911 – $11,220 for the first year and $8,700 per year thereafter. Allows officers to hear 911 calls in real time, cuts down on delay in information.
    • Drone Program – Missouri City has one of the most robust drone programs in the region. Regularly assist many agencies in the area with searches.
  • Youth Explorer Program – career-oriented leadership program providing high schoolers the opportunity to explore law enforcement careers. Currently 12 young people from Fort Bend high schools in the program.
  • Adopted the Open Data Initiative – put the Department’s raw data on the City’s website for full transparency. Residents can view information including criminal offenses, use of force incidents, automobile crashes, citations, arrests, racial profiling data and department demographics.

For more information about Missouri City, please watch the City website: www.missouricitytx.gov, like us on Facebook—fb/MissouriCityTX, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat—@MissouriCityTX and Nextdoor, watch Missouri City Television (Ch. 16 on Comcast and Ch. 99 on AT&T U-verse) or download the MCTX Mobile app (available for free in Google Play and the Apple app store). 

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