The city of Fort Worth was briefly mentioned during the first presidential debate on Tuesday night as an example of a Republican-led city experiencing an increase in homicide rates.
The debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was moderated by Chris Wallace.
“You often blame that on Democratic mayors and Democratic governors but in fact, there have been equivalent spikes in Republican-led cities like Tulsa and Fort Worth. So the question is, is this really a party issue?” Wallace asked.
President Trump answered he believed it is a party issue, pointing to Chicago and New York. He then turned his attention back to Biden, saying that if the former vice president “ever got to run this country and they ran it the way he would want to run it, our suburbs would be gone. You would see problems.”
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Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price refuted that, telling NBC 5 Wednesday “crime in cities is not a party issue”.
“Every mayor, no matter who you are, your first charge is to keep your city safe,” Mayor Price said. “Of course, it’s a little shocking to see your city named in that context, but I think if people take the time to see the numbers, to really understand the context of that… to not get caught up in partisan issues… we’re still a very safe city.”
According to the second quarter crime report provided by the Fort Worth Police Department, “murder and non-negligent manslaughter” increased by 39.4% in the first six months of 2020, compared to the same time last year. The report shows there were 46 offenses of that type between January 2020 and June 2020, compared to 33 offenses between January 2019 and June 2019.
Mayor Price’s office released a statement on Wednesday regarding the question raised during the debate, in which Price said she while acknowledges the city’s homicide percentage is “eye-catching when looking at the raw data our numbers are lower than other major cities. The unfortunate reality is crime has increased across the nation, and Fort Worth is not immune.”
Dr. Alex del Carmen is an associate dean and professor at the school of criminology at Tarleton State University. He said there are several factors to consider when it comes to homicide rates and trends, but there is very little research and findings to suggest political parties is one of them.
“This is a clear case of how crime has been politicized in a form of a question during a presidential debate,” Dr. del Carmen said. “The weather matters, the accessibility to a location matters. The unemployment rate matters, the level of law enforcement matters.”
Regarding Fort Worth crime, Price said there are steps being taken to combat it.
“The crisis intervention team, which is ‘part’ department of mental health professionals and ‘part’ police officers – that’s been increased,” she said. “As our kids go back to school, we’ll have additional eyes on child abuse issues. There’s a lot to be dealt with.”
Price has requested an update on violent crime and measures taking place to reduce violence across the city. It is expected to be discussed during the Oct. 20 council meeting.