Missouri City Police Chief Mike Berezin

Missouri City Police Chief Mike Berezin

Both Sugar Land and Missouri City have seen upticks in some violent crime categories in both 2020 and 2021, but they should be considered in their context, according to police officials in both communities.

Violent crime increased in Missouri City in 2020, largely on the back of more aggravated assaults and robberies.

But it’s important to understand it came after years of falling percentages, according to Chief of Police Mike Berezin.

“I always tell people to try not to focus on the percentages,” Berezin said. “Look at the actual numbers.”

Focusing on percentages can sometimes paint a misleading picture. For instance, Missouri City in 2020 saw two homicides, compared to just one in 2019 – a 100 percent increase in the course of a single year, Berezin said.

Because the numbers are so low, any variation can cause significant upticks in the overall rate, Berezin said.

Meanwhile, in Sugar Land, crime decreased in 2020, but has since trended up somewhat in 2021.

“Sugar Land police haven’t witnessed a major uptick in violent crimes (in 2021), but are trending back to ‘normal ranges,’ as in 2019,” said Doug Adolph, spokesperson for the city. “During 2020, our COVID year, crimes trended downward, except in homicides, which were known offenders.”

There were four homicides in Sugar Land in 2020, compared to three in 2019, according to data provided to the Fort Bend Star. Aggravated assaults also rose from 23 in 2019 up to 31 in 2020, but robberies declined from 28 in 2019 to 20 in 2020.

The situation in Missouri City and Sugar land, in many ways, echoes the conversation nationally over violent crime during the pandemic.

Early federal analysis suggests cities across the country might have seen a 25 percent increase in homicides in 2020, or about 4,000 or 5,000 more people killed, and a 3 percent increase in overall violent crime, according to a Guardian article examining FBI data.

Some have used that uptick to argue for more policing, while others have emphasized that the year should be taken into historical context, that crime has been trending downward for decades now.

In other words, for much of Fort Bend County and the country, it’s hard to draw many trend lines from what’s thus far a one-year aberration.

Robberies accounted for the biggest portion of Missouri City’s increase in 2020, Berezin said.

“The reason for the increase is everybody was wearing a mask,” Berezin said. “Before the pandemic, if five or six men walked in with masks, that would raise eyebrows. It doesn’t anymore, and the criminal element took advantage.”

Police received 17 additional robbery reports in 2020, compared to the previous year, Berezin said.

Investigators have already made several arrests connected to those robberies, Berezin said.

An increase in aggravated assaults also appears comprised mostly of domestic incidents, Berezin said.

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