FORT WORTH, Texas -- Police say six people a month on average are dying of homicide in the city of Fort Worth. For the families of the victims, it’s not just a troubling statistic, but it’s also a painful reminder of how much is lost every time it happens.
"We had so much time, more time, we could’ve spent with her. She was just 32 years old," says Melinda Hamilton.
It's been three excruciating months since Hamilton lost her daughter, Shemeka Rodriguez, in a flurry of gunfire on the city's southeast side.
"She was my third daughter, my wild daughter, my exciting daughter," she says, remembering Shemeka. "I wouldn’t wish this on anybody."
It is pain shared by dozens of families. This year so far, 54 people have died by homicide in Fort Worth, according to Sgt. Joe Loughman. That's up about 15 percent from the same time last year. Homicide rates have been climbing the past few years. In fact, Fort Worth has had more homicides in the past nine months than in all of 2014.
"It is a concern, anytime we have an increase in homicides," says Officer Daniel Segura.
In May, a noticeable uptick in violent crimes led police to launch a special task force where officers saturated high-crime areas. That effort ended shortly after.
Knowing the majority of homicides in 2017 have stemmed from fights or arguments, Segura points out that even without the task force, FWPD is still bulking up its street presence.
"We are almost to 1700 officers," Segura says. "This past week, we graduated another class, so we have 100 new officers on the streets. That’s helping us to have more manpower, more police officers visible in neighborhoods."
Segura also mentions the recent introduction of city-wide cameras as another effort to deter crime.
"Cameras are good, but we still need to see our police officers out there," Hamilton says.
Of the 54 homicides this year, 18 of them are yet to be solved. Hamilton's daughter is one of them.
"It wasn’t time for you to go," she says, when asked what she'd say to her daughter.