Are Texas border cities actually safer than other cities?

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — There has been a lot of political chatter about whether cities on the U.S.-Mexico border are actually “safe” or “among the safest in the nation.”

But is that statement statistically true?

Earlier this week, Laredo Rep. Henry Cuellar’s office released figures stating that all of the border cities have lower crime rates than big cities like Washington and Houston.

KTSA News decided to compare the border cities to cities in Texas of a similar size to see if they were truly safer than cities located in other parts of the state.

We focused only on South Texas cities, since they are easier to compare statistically to other cities in the state — El Paso has 150,000 fewer people than the city it is behind (Fort Worth) and 200,000 more people than it is ahead of (Arlington), meaning there was no city to compare it to.

Comparison

Let’s start with three cities that are directly on the border with Mexico: Laredo, Brownsville and Hidalgo.

These numbers are the 2016 crime statistics compiled by the FBI and Texas Department of Public Safety.

City Population Homicide Sex offense Robbery Agg Assault Violent Crime Violent Crime per 100,000
Laredo 259,325 12 148 160 620 940 362.48
Plano 288,242 5 77 109 208 399 138.43
Lubbock 252,900 6 177 471 2087 2741 1,083.83
Garland 238,859 7 117 345 298 767 321.11
Irving 240,765 5 37 213 266 521 216.39
City Population Homicide Sex offense Robbery Agg Assault Violent Crime Violent Crime per 100,000
Brownsville 185,583 4 50 130 264 448 241.40
Amarillo 200,141 11 162 260 981 1414 706.50
Grand Prairie 190,270 9 139 185 254 587 308.51
McKinney 169,689 5 49 65 124 243 143.20
Frisco 162,917 0 21 27 78 126 77.34
Pasadena 154,648 3 105 211 372 691 446.82
City Population Homicide Sex offense Robbery Agg Assault Violent Crime Violent Crime per 100,000
Hidalgo 13943 0 5 3 14 22 157.79
Live Oak 15809 1 3 9 12 25 158.14
Leon Valley 11376 0 2 6 28 36 316.46
Kilgore 15258 0 12 11 41 64 419.45
Hewitt 14384 0 3 3 17 23 159.90
La Marque 16191 4 10 21 88 123 759.68

These numbers show the border cities compare favorably to comparably-sized stand-alone cities in Texas, though are generally more dangerous than higher-income suburban cities.

We also looked at cities that were near the border and looked at how they compared to other Texas cities of similar size.

City Population Homicide Sex offense Robbery Agg Assault Violent Crime Violent Crime per 100,000
McAllen 142227 3 40 65 107 215 151.17
Mesquite 145786 2 66 250 285 603 413.62
Killeen 143248 16 129 234 617 996 695.30
Carrollton 136095 4 51 65 100 220 161.65
Midland 137780 3 24 93 292 412 299.03
Waco 133790 4 126 156 409 695 519.47
City Population Homicide Sex offense Robbery Agg Assault Violent Crime Violent Crime per 100,000
Edinburg 86535 3 61 51 239 354 409.08
Sugar Land 90088 0 16 43 18 77 85.47
Mission 84380 0 36 40 44 120 142.21
Longview 82287 13 59 120 292 484 588.19
Bryan 83286 1 59 96 264 420 504.29
Pharr 77744 1 25 35 167 228 293.27
Baytown 77224 9 25 98 170 302 391.07
City Population Homicide Sex offense Robbery Agg Assault Violent Crime Violent Crime per 100,000
Harlingen 65913 2 35 58 186 281 426.32
Conroe 71111 1 39 86 126 252 354.38
Victoria 67574 5 42 60 162 269 398.08
Cedar Park 69051 0 41 17 58 116 167.99
Mansfield 65882 1 16 19 31 67 101.70
Georgetown 67436 0 22 11 52 85 126.05
San Marcos 64380 1 58 56 112 227 352.59

And here are some other notable San Antonio area statistics from 2016 to compare crime rates to:

City Population Homicide Sex offense Robbery Agg Assault Violent Crime Violent Crime per 100,000
San Antonio 1498642 149 1190 2232 7183 10754 717.58
New Braunfels 73334 1 34 25 147 207 282.27
Boerne 14368 0 9 3 13 25 174.00
Seguin 28319 4 26 15 65 111 391.96
Schertz 39225 0 19 6 60 85 216.70
Alamo Heights 8248 1 1 2 4 8 96.99
Converse 22782 1 6 11 105 123 539.90
Universal City 20275 0 5 14 15 34 167.69
Helotes 8855 0 4 3 0 7 79.05
Balcones Heights 3366 0 1 13 18 32 950.68
Pleasanton 10013 2 5 8 19 34 339.56
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