Formed after last year’s spike in violent crime, the City’s violent crime task force has made more than 4,600 arrests to date. But while the number of homicides have fallen, incidents of violent crime have remained largely unchanged during the first half of this year, and San Antonio Police Department Chief William McManus said he likely will keep the task force in place into 2018.

“We’ve seen a lot of hard work being done,” McManus told the Rivard Report on Thursday. “We’ve seen a lot of people – a lot of criminals – being arrested for a variety of charges stemming from narcotics to gang activity – [from] all types of violent crime.”

SAPD logs the number of violent crimes in the Uniform Crime Report, which is available on the department’s website. Incidents classified as violent crimes include homicides, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults.

The Rivard Report graphed the number of violent crimes by month in San Antonio from 2014 to 2017.

The number of violent crimes committed from January through June of this year is 5,419 – slightly more than half of 2016’s total of 10,754 violent crimes. Comparing incidents from the first six months of 2016 to the first six months of 2017, there were eight fewer homicides, but 27 more rapes, 128 more robberies, and 162 more aggravated assaults. A total of 309 more violent crime incidents occurred in the first six months of 2017, a 6 percent increase from the first half of 2016.

“We started the year saying that the end of this year will show whether or not a lot of arrests will help reduce crime,” McManus said. “Right now, the preliminary numbers look promising, but I don’t want to declare victory until we see what the final numbers are at the end of the year.”

Decreasing the homicide rate was central to the task force’s creation. Last year, 149 homicides occurred in the city, a significant jump from 94 in 2015 and the highest total since 1995.

In the first six months of this year, the city has recorded 61 homicides. SAPD spokesman Lt. Jesse Salame said the decrease signifies that the the task force is having an impact. He said that so long as SAPD continues to have state and federal partners in fighting violent crime, the task force will continue its cooperative efforts.

St. Mary’s University law professor Gerald Reamey, who has worked as a consultant for law enforcement agencies, said that these sorts of task forces are designed to be immediate responses to problems, but are ultimately short-term solutions that do not address the root causes of crime.

Along with a spike in homicides, aggravated assaults also rose from 2015 to 2016, from 5,465 incidents in 2015 to 7,183 in 2016. Aggravated assault rates for the first six months of 2017 are higher than the first six of 2016, a statistic Reamey called an indication that violent crime remains a problem in San Antonio.

“You really, I think, have to consider aggravated assaults and homicides as being of the same cloth,” Reamey said. “When you have some effect on the homicide rate, that’s a good thing, but unless you can affect both the homicide rate and the aggravated assault rate, you’re likely to not have really solved the problem in the long term.”

Reamey said that the many root problems of violent crime make it nearly impossible for police agencies to address solely on their own.

In addition to prioritizing violence crime arrests, the task force has recovered 598 handguns and 158 rifles, and seized more than $1.1 million in suspected criminal proceeds.

Officers working with the task force come from nine local, state, and federal law enforcement departments, McManus said. Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was deploying additional personnel from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), officers who typically patrol the state’s highways.

At the time of his announcement, Abbott praised the SAPD’s task force as “a model … approach to combat escalating violent crime,” saying the addition of DPS personnel to the effort “will bolster the overall impact.”

“This is actually a different way of policing for DPS, and they’re very, very enthused about it,” McManus said. “They enjoy the work, they jumped right in with our SAPD officers and others of the task force.”

The additional resources are spread across the city and being implemented in trooper strike teams, violent crime squads, and intelligence teams. McManus said the additional officers have provided greater law enforcement visibility and helped in the collection and shared distribution of intelligence.

McManus referred questions about why more DPS officers were sent to San Antonio to Abbott’s office. Officials from the governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.