District G

Informational Town Hall on Crime

Below are the answers to the submitted questions that we did not have time to answer during the meeting:

  1. How long is the response time for HPD to arrive after calling 911?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: In 2021, HPD has responded to priority code 1 calls at an average of 5.96 minutes and priority code 2 calls at an average of 10.83 minutes (source: HPD June Monthly Operational Summary).

    Police Response Times Chart

    Additional Info: General Order 600-01: Response Management outlines the criteria used to guide response protocols. Response management is primarily based on the level of threat to human life and/or property and is considerate of the safety of citizens and officers. Examples of call types by priority code are also included in the general order.

  2. Are local law enforcement agencies still receiving federal funds for equipment, safety and training?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: HPD receives federal funds under many different programs and grants to provide safety equipment to protect both officers and citizens. HPD also receives funding to provide a wide range of training to include equipment used to safeguard and promote officer and citizen safety. In keeping with our goal to preserve life and individual rights, HPD receives training in best policing practices and techniques as well as enhanced investigative techniques to solve crime.  HPD recently opened the “Tactical Village”, which allows for realistic scenario-based training.  This asset was paid for by the Houston Police Foundation.
  3. We have experienced a tremendous increase in people wandering our neighborhood, checking car/house doors for opportunities, with no regard to people even being present in their homes. If caught, these criminals are quickly released to continue terrorizing our neighborhood. What will be done to protect our homes, our cars and our safety? This is has gotten out of control and we are sick of being cased on a daily basis! We cannot wait for a person to become injured in these cases. We must be proactive and demand these criminals be held accountable and locked up to return safety to our neighborhood. What is the City's plan?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: HPD is very mindful of the rise in crime affecting the community and we are using data and other information to focus on violent crime hot spots and the most violent suspects. Everyone needs to be vigilant and be cautious by not placing themselves in potentially dangerous situations such as going to ATM’s at night.  HPD urges citizens to make smart decisions and avoid dangerous situations. Be vigilant when going to a financial institution or gun shops.  Look for individuals that are watching these locations, targeting individuals.  Do not leave valuables or weapons in your vehicle.  Thousands of handguns are stolen from vehicles each year in the City of Houston.  The police department also needs the public to report suspicious activity or criminal behavior.

    A suspension of social services during the COVID-19 pandemic and a court system backlog stretching back to Hurricane Harvey have contributed to a massive increase in violent crime.

    HPD has been meeting with judges and the district attorney’s office to work collaboratively to move the criminal justice system along.  Without a collaborative approach, the criminal justice system will not function effectively.

    We can no longer arrest, in large numbers, nonviolent individuals who need treatment and have suffered from mental illness. In order to respond to calls involving individuals in a mental health crisis, HPD is in the process of hiring additional clinicians and counselors, while also training officers to work with clinicians in a Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT).  CIRT teams can effectively handle low level offenders that continue to circulate through the criminal justice system if they are not provided the mental health treatment they need.
  4. I have been informed that, on any given night, there are only 80 police officers patrolling Houston streets. With a force of 5000, where are the other 4900?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: On an average day, HPD has between 1,100-1,400 officers responding to calls for service across the city. During peak call times, HPD averages 255 officers responding to calls each hour. Remaining personnel are assigned to equally important tasks such as criminal investigations, proactive investigative details, community policing efforts, and administrative/regulatory support. As needed, staffing levels are altered to accommodate mandatory training requirements, time-off requests, and coordinated responses to poor weather, mass gatherings, and permitted city events.
  5. When will you hire more police officers to improve coverage around the city?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: The Mayor and Police Department are committed to hiring more police officers.  HPD has six academy classes scheduled for fiscal year 2022.  In addition, HPD is leveraging technology to improve productivity of existing personnel and identifying force multipliers through coordination of services with social service agencies and other law enforcement partners.
  6. Does HPD use Big Data to manage police resources and target crime?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: Yes, HPD regularly uses data to inform policing practices, manage resources, and target criminal activity. The department has embedded analysts throughout our operations teams and calls upon the “Real Time Crime Center” to provide analytic support for active calls for service. Each year, the department conducts staffing reallocation studies to ensure personnel are assigned across the city equitably. HPD’s Office of Planning & Data Governance publishes monthly and annual reports containing operational metrics. Further, Department leadership remain committed to participating in research projects to better inform law enforcement practices and identify where improvement may be needed.
  7. How much of the department budget is spent on youth programming and activities? Is there a place where I can find documentation or evidence of hours designated to youth support programs or crime prevention? What resources are being allocated to raising the clearance rate for homicides?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: HPD has documented its substantial youth programs on its webpage at https://www.houstontx.gov/police/youth-programs.htm.

    HPD seeks youth input into programs and policies through its Youth Police Advisory Council (YPAC) to promote trust and understanding between HPD and youth.

    HPD Boys and Girls Club After School Mentoring Program provides social, emotional and academic support by developing positive relationships with club members, ages 7-17.  Police Officers provide support through one-to-one and small group mentoring, as well as help to facilitate character-building programs.

    The Teen and Police Service Academy’s (TAPS Academy) goal is to reduce the social distance between at-risk youth and law enforcement. This goal is being accomplished through learning, interaction and discussion between at-risk youth and the law enforcement personnel that serve their communities.

    Law Enforcement Exploring provides educational training programs for young adults on the purposes, mission, and objectives of law enforcement. The program provides career orientation experiences, leadership opportunities, and community service activities. The primary goals of the program are to help young adults choose a career path within law enforcement and to challenge them to become responsible citizens of their communities and the nation.

    In an effort to help reduce teen driver crashes and fatalities, HPD conducts Teen Driver Safety (TDS) presentations and activities at schools and public events in an effort to help reduce incidents involving impaired and distracted driving among teens.

    Gang Resistance Education Awareness Training (G.R.E.A.T.) is a prevention program for middle school students implemented by the Houston Police Department. Police officers teach an anti-gang curriculum to students at target HISD middle schools. The goal of G.R.E.A.T. is to prevent youth crime, violence, and gang involvement while developing a positive relationship among law enforcement, families and young people to create safer communities.

    The Greater Houston Police Activities League (GHPAL) actively recruits Houston area youth ages 8-18 and adult volunteers to participate in athletic, educational and mentoring activities. Our goal is to reduce juvenile crime and violence through “Relational Policing” which includes building trusting relationships among youth, law enforcement and the community.

    HPD has dedicated significant personnel and resources to this important program. Please contact the local Greater Houston Police Activities League (GHPAL) officer in your area to obtain a form or to get more information about the program (see https://www.houstontx.gov/police/vip/ghpal.htm).

    Location                      Officer’s Name           Officer’s Contact Information
    Central                        Frank Sierra                        Frank.Sierra@houstonpolice.org   
    Clear Lake                  Anthony Triplett                 Anthony.triplett@houstonpolice.org
    Eastside                       Megan Michon                     Megan.michon@houstonpolice.org
    Kingwood          Christopher Morales     christopher.morales@houstonpolice.org
    Midwest             Flavio Zermeno           Flavio.Zermeno@HoustonPolice.Org
    North                           Natasha Myers                     Natasha.myers@houstonpolice.org
    North Belt                               Racquel Young            Racquel.Young@houstonpolice.org
    Northeast                    Aurelia Aguilar            Aurelia.aguilar@houstonpolice.org
    Northwest                   Paxton Phares                  Paxton.Phares@houstonpolice.org
    South Central              Charles Webb                 Charles.webb@houstonpolice.org
    South Gessner             Terrance Burrell               Terrance.Burrell@houstonpolice.org
    Southeast                    Scott Zacchaeus               zacchaeus.scott@houstonpolice.org
    Southwest                   Darrell Elzy                    Darrell.elzy@houstonpolice.org
    Westside          Charlie Pocasangre     Charlie.Pocasangre@houstonpolice.org
  8. Violent crime by type by year for past five years, number of violent crime parolees out on bond per year for last 5 years, number of violent crimes by year by violent crime parolees out on bond per year for last 5 years, number of policemen on payroll per year for last 5 years,
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: Please note that the following statistics are best compiled by the Harris County District Clerk’s Office and HPD does not have the data: Number of violent crime parolees out on bond per year for last 5 years; Number of violent crimes by year by violent crime parolees out on bond per year for last 5 years.

    Violent Crime and Staffing Chart

  9. How many HPD officers are on uniformed patrol at any given time?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: On an average day, HPD has between 1,100-1,400 officers responding to calls for service across the city. During peak call times, HPD averages 255 officers responding to calls each hour and, when operationally necessary, officers are required to stay past their scheduled shift times to maintain service levels.
  10. When can we establish police substations at firehouses or other public facilities in the apartment "jungle" that has become a criminal cesspool?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: Part of HPD’s research to identify the most appropriate response to crime is to leverage technology to allow citizens to file routine police reports via the HPD web page 24-hours per day, instead of having to travel in person to a local storefront (see https://www.houstontx.gov/police/online_report.htm). This frees police personnel to respond to higher priority calls and conduct investigations.
  11. We have a violent crime way resulting from repeat criminals being let out on our streets by the DA and Judges. (see below). Our Mayor says there's nothing he can do about it. What are you, others on City Council, and Chief Finner going to do? In 2020, nearly 19,000 defendants were charged with new felonies and misdemeanors after being released on bond – a figure that represents a tripling since 2015, the newspaper reported. Many of the cases have been murders, according to the Chronicle. Since 2015, more than 63,000 defendants released on bond have been charged with the crimes, the report added. Re: Recent slayings: - the Houston aquarium slaying was latest killing by a defendant out on bond: Cazares had been freed from jail on bond last April, after being taken into custody on a charge of being a felon in possession of a weapon. In October 2020, Cazares was freed on bond after being arrested for allegedly damaging a motel room, In a third case, he was released on bond after being arrested for criminal trespass at a fire station, - A young Houston mother, with a 1 yr old son was killed by Zacchaeus Gaston. People are asking "When is this going to stop?' Zacchaeus Gaston, 27, out on bond seven times. As for the aquarium shooting, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, told FOX 26 he believed there was little that authorities could have done to prevent it. "I don’t care how many police officers you had, it would not have prevented that incident from occurring," Turner told FOX 26. "Things are just happening all over," the mayor added, "and we just have to do everything we can to keep people safe."
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: A suspension of social services during the COVID-19 pandemic and a court system backlog stretching back to Hurricane Harvey have contributed to a massive increase in violent crime. Chief Finner has spoken at length about the work that needs to be done to put violent criminals in jail and keeping them there. He says he wants to get the courts moving, saying there are more than 1,500 murder cases that need to be tried.

    HPD has been meeting with judges and they are trying to get cases moving but says everyone needs to work together and do their part.

    Chief Finner has held two summits this year to find solutions to the disturbing trend that also includes family violence. In June, Chief Finner invited local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to collaborate.

    For the second summit, he invited nightclub owners to the table to discuss how they can provide more security surrounding their venues. These discussions will continue.

    Additionally, in order to respond to calls involving individuals in a mental health crisis, HPD is in the process of hiring additional clinicians and counselors, while also training officers to work with clinicians in a Crisis Intervention Response Team.

    In addition, HPD put together a violent crime initiative to address areas that have seen increases in the most violent crimes.  The Mayor has provided funding to allow for overtime to increase the number of officers that are devoted to fighting violent crime.

  12. When is the Mayor going to get tough on crime? When are more police officers going to be put on the street to address the growing crime wave? Why is there an uptick in violent crime, assaults and murder? What is this, Chicago? Enough is Enough, Get tough on crime!
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: The police department has increased presence, especially in crime hot spots, by putting more officers on patrol and adding shifts thanks to COVID-19 relief funds and other identified city funding paying for overtime. It has also increased funding to investigations, in particular the homicide division.
  13. What is the overall strategy/policy of this administration. Galliano had the broken windows. What does the Turner/Finner administration have?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: Like all major cities, Houston continues to see an increase in violent crime, specifically with homicides and aggravated assaults. We must all come together as a community. We need all criminal justice, social service, and health partners to work together to stem the increase in violence. Community collaboration and shared ownership of this multidisciplinary problem are the keys to resolving what should be seen as not only a crime issue, but a public health issue.

    HPD will continue-as we have during the pandemic-to adjust our resources, strategies and staffing to combat this increase in violence. Still our criminal justice partners must come together in the interest of public safety. We need the criminal proceedings and criminal courts to swiftly return to work.  Additional resources are needed to make up for the backlog that has developed.  Some of these things are beginning to happen with an additional felony court being added and additional associate judges being approved by the Commissioner’s Court.  These resources are needed to address the backlog.
  14. What generally are the operations out there that we, the city of Houston, are doing to combat this crime wave? I know you can’t provide specifics but what can you discuss?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: HPD will continue to adjust our resources, strategies and staffing to combat this increase in violence. HPD has increased presence, especially in crime hot spots, by putting more officers on patrol and adding shifts thanks to COVID-19 relief funds and other identified city funding paying for overtime. It has also increased funding to investigations, in particular the Homicide, Major Assaults and Family Violence, and Robbery Divisions.  Still our criminal justice, social service and health partners must come together in the interest of public safety.
  15. What is the optimal force needed in Houston taking into account population and area covered? How much will it cost annually to maintain that optimal force.
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: In 2014, HPD contracted PERF and Justex to conduct an operational staffing study focusing on elements of the department that provide direct services to the city. At the time of the study, HPD employed approximately 5,300 officers, about 125 more than today’s classified headcount. The staffing recommendations resulting from that study indicated HPD needed to hire approximately 1,220 officers and 140 supervisors, for a total of approximately 1,500 classified employees after adjusting for current staffing levels.

    The two publications resulting from the above study can be found here:
    Houston Police Department Operational Staffing Model
    Proposed Operational Staffing Enhancements for the Houston Police Department
  16. What is the deal with all the fake paper tag license plates? Does HPD not care about them? Why don’t we all just have them if real ones are not required?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  17. What resources are available to help establish, train and foster a working relationship with HPD in a Neighborhood Crime Watch Program, using the HOA Board & select volunteers?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  18. What action steps need to be done in order to increase the number of Houston Police Department patrol persons? In other words, what needs to be done to get more people hired by HPD?
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  19. Please update public on funds available to begin new classes for our law enforcement officers.
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  20. When are we going to go after the gangs? When are we going to make the judges accountable for letting felons out on bond that Kill Again On Bond.
    Houston Police, Chief Troy Finner: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  21. What can I do as a citizen to help reduce crime?
    HPD Westside, Commander David Angelo: Report a crime when it occurs, regardless of what it is.  We use crime analysis (e.g. reported crimes) to determine where, when, and what type of crime is occurring in a certain area so we respond accordingly.  Violent crime takes priority over property crime; however, we need the community to report both violent and non-violent crime when it occurs.

    Be a good witness.  If you witness a crime in progress please do not put yourself in harms way.  Some citizens may be reluctant to speak with the police for fear of retaliation.  Your personal identifying information is not public record and will not be released even if media makes a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the report.  The only report information released for FOIA is date, time, location, type of crime and a small summary of the incident.  NO PERSONAL INFORMATION is included in the release of information.

    Please remove personal belongings from your vehicle, especially guns.  For the first six months of 2021, there were over 1,600 reports of guns stolen from vehicles.  These are 1,600+ additional guns on our streets.

  22. What is going to be done to stop anyone from stealing products from the Walgreens located at Kirkwood and Briar Forest? People are blatantly raiding this store. The store personnel are instructed not to challenge the perpetrators as they exit the store loaded with merchandise. I’m afraid to enter this Walgreens because I may get robbed.  This is out of control. What’s going to be done about this?
    HPD Westside, Commander David Angelo: I spoke with Walgreens’ Regional Asset Protection Manager.  Walgreens corporate policy is that store employees/managers will not physically intervene if someone is stealing from the store.  However, employees are free to approach an individual and engage in a consensual conversation in the hope that they put the items back.  If the store calls the police we will respond, however, if the amount of the theft is below a certain threshold, they will not call.  There are other Walgreens stores throughout the city of Houston that have a much larger theft problem than the one at Kirkwood/Briar Forest.  Regarding the citizen’s fear of getting robbed, my advice is to be aware of your surroundings.  If you see suspicious people or activity then I would encourage you to call the police non-emergency number to report it at 713-884-3131.  Trust your instincts – if something doesn’t feel right then don’t go in the store.
  23. Is City and Police Dept aware? (And have a plan to deter, if correct) on increasing burglaries, thefts, driving over limit on Dairy Ashford, Memorial Drive, Perthshire), and suspicion human trafficking and prostitution in certain areas of Memorial Drive -- (one of areas: Memorial Drive and corner of Nottingham/St John Vianey/Close Restaurant. Many thanks!
    HPD Westside, Commander David Angelo: Westside officers do conduct regular traffic enforcement in the area.  We receive many complaints for speeding vehicles, especially among the major thoroughfares in the area.  Councilman Travis purchased a mobile speed trailer for Westside that we use to notify drivers of their speed and it will flash if they are driving over the speed limit.  Currently, the speed trailer is located in the Fleetwood area.  I will have it moved to this area after we finish using it at Fleetwood.  We will increase traffic enforcement in these areas.  Regarding the suspicion of human trafficking and prostitution, I would like to speak with the citizen regarding this issue to obtain additional information.

    Regarding the increasing burglaries and thefts, I have an overtime program specifically for officers driving in the areas for increased police visibility.  One of the complaints I was receiving is that the community does not see the police driving in their neighborhoods.  This is because the demand for police services has increased over the years while our staffing has remained stagnant, coupled with the fact of all of the development that has occurred in District G over the past 10 years, increasing population, traffic congestion, and crime.
  24. Back in October 2020, my wife was involved in a hit and run that totaled our vehicle. We provided a video of the accident, the VIN of the vehicle and a description of the driver. The vehicle has a an expired paper tag on it still. After 4 months, the investigator finally reviewed the case, contacted the driver and after one call, the driver blocked the investigator's calls. My wife went downtown and did a view some poor quality black and white images of a very dark skin male. She picked out the wrong person, so the case got ignored from there. We have seen the vehicle and the driver near the intersection of Westheimer and Eldridge on 4 separate occasions. Is there anything that can be done to get this person arrested? The insurance company would like to recover some of the money they are out if possible. If this person is ever apprehended, my guess is that other charges will occur as a result of the hit and run.
    HPD Westside, Commander David Angelo: Before the police can file a criminal charge on a defendant, one of the cornerstones of the criminal justice system is that we must have probable cause before we can make an arrest.  In this citizen’s case, his wife was unable to identify the driver of the hit and run vehicle.  Under no circumstance, would the District Attorney’s prosecute a hit and run defendant wherein the wrong identification was made by the complainant, and rightfully so.  In this case the citizen’s wife identified the wrong individual to police which makes hit and run criminal charges challenging to file unless there is some other evidence substantiating the person that was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.  I would be happy to discuss this incident with the citizen to find out additional details and report back to them.
  25. When a HPD officer makes an arrest, what is the typical amount of time that they are out of service (10-7 ?)
    HPD Westside, Commander David Angelo: There are too many factors to answer this question – time of day, traffic/travel time to downtown jail, how busy the jail.  However, it is not uncommon for an officer to be out of service for half of their shift on an arrest where we file criminal charges.  This would include response time to the scene, investigating the scene, interviewing victims, witnesses, and suspect, arresting the suspect, travel time to jail, processing the prisoner, returning to the beat to file the police report and criminal charges.  It could take longer if there is a complicated scene (e.g. murder) where there is evidence to tag along in addition to the other tasks above.
  26. Is there any plan to address the excessive speeding on Kirkwood between I-10 and memorial? There is a lot of loud vehicles, racing and speeding too close to the neighborhood.
    HPD Westside, Commander David Angelo: Westside officers do conduct regular traffic enforcement in the area.  We receive many complaints for speeding vehicles, especially among the major thoroughfares in the area.  Councilman Travis purchased a mobile speed trailer for Westside that we use to notify drivers of their speed and it will flash if they are driving over the speed limit.  Currently, the speed trailer is located in the Fleetwood area.  I will instruct our traffic units to conduct speed enforcement on Kirkwood, between I-10 and Kimberley.  The intersection of Kimberley/Kirkwood has a stop light so we will increase traffic enforcement south of Kimberley on Kirkwood towards I-10.
  27. 11:00 pm and into the wee hours of the night you can hear drag racing on the Katy Freeway. We have spent a large sum of money replacing our bedroom window to help with the noise. For the safety of all drivers on the freeway, what is the action plan for the drag racers on I-10? Thank you to all of the law enforcement that tirelessly deal with so many different situations on a daily basis!
    See answer above.
  28. 10891 Katy Freeway Frontage Road and Brittmore intersection. At the entrance to the freeway two men have lived under the bridge going on 2 1/2 years. There is a large pile of trash covered with a blanket, bikes, chairs, and a cat. There is trash all along the entrance ramp to the freeway on a daily basis which spills onto the freeway. These guys beg for money at Beltway 8 and Wilcrest Dr. Although homelessness isn’t a crime, what about littering, public urination, loitering, public use of alcohol, and cruelty to an animal? Can there be a welfare check on these two individuals? Thank you!
    HPD Westside, Commander David Angelo: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  29. We have been told by law officers that the City Centre malls and shops get priority over individual homeowners. When police must take suspects to central booking, this takes hours leaving our homes nearby at the mercy of thieves and crooks. Why can’t they have a holding facility nearby and have transportation pick up crooks for booking at Central Processing, leaving the police to patrol the entire neighborhood and not just the shopping center?
    HPD Westside, Commander David Angelo: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  30. I keep hearing about people being followed home from Central Market or other stores. Is this true? Thank you!
    HPD Midwest, Commander Jennifer Read: There are no known reports of citizens being followed from Central Market. There have been reports of individuals being followed driving high end vehicles and wearing flashy jewelry. Arrests have been made in these cases where robberies have occurred. The last 30 days robberies are down 40% in the Midwest area.

    Tips:  If you think you are being followed… be observant of surroundings… drive to a police station.

  31. When a HPD officer makes an arrest, what is the typical amount of time that they are out of service (10-7 ?)
    HPD Midwest, Commander Jennifer Read: The amount of time an officer is out of service varies as it depends on the time of day, day of week, road traffic, as well as the number of people being booked at JPC.
  32. When will Houston enact an ordinance that allows police to impound the cars of motorists who have been stopped for a moving violation or collision and have no insurance?
    HPD Midwest, Commander Jennifer Read: The Houston Police Department enforces city ordinances, but does not create them. (Not sure if this was supposed to be a police question.)
  33. I recently spoke with a Houston Police Officer about the amount of weapons being seen in road rage incidents on Houston streets. He stated the people doing these things often have criminal records. They arrest the culprit. The next day, they are back on the streets. The City of Houston must keep perpetrators in prison. The amount of murders and gunfire incidents in this City is increasing. More action needs to be taken now. I have worked in Memphis, Tennessee and seen videos of Detroit, Michigan. Thirty years ago, these were two vibrant and growing cities. They are both in severe decline now due to increased crime. When will the City of Houston stop releasing criminals so easily and retake control of the crime? When will the City of Houston make the homeless people live in shelters? I worked at the Star of Hope for six years. They offer real assistance. People under bridges and on the street are not necessary in Houston.
    HPD Midwest, Commander Jennifer Read: The Houston Police Department does not determine when criminals are released from jail.  This issue is currently being addressed by politicians, both locally and at the state level.

    The Mental Health Division has a “HOT” working to address the needs of the homeless community, but officers can’t force individual to accept housing.  Despite the injunction against the city, police along with the city are working continuous to address this problem.  Police can ticket or jail for city ordinances or laws broken, but that is not a long term solution to the problem.

  34. What active measures are in place to thwart the racing that is constant on the highways that run through our district. Is it time to reevaluate the measures in place, if any? It seems to me the problem is only getting exponentially worse. It almost feels like law enforcement has given up.
    HPD Midwest, Commander Jennifer Read: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  35. Drag racing is a serious quality of life issue. What are the Houston Police Department doing to curtail this behavior?
    HPD Midwest, Commander Jennifer Read: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  36. We hardly ever see police presence. Walking or driving. Parking occurs on red painted curbs, by fire hydrants. Stop signs are run constantly. We are a cut thru from Westheimer to San Felipe. Purses are being yanked out of cars and houses are being broken into. What can we do to support our police so that we receive more visible coverage?
    HPD Midwest, Commander Jennifer Read: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  37. I have lived in District G for 40+ years and never have I felt so "at risk" from robbery/theft (catalytic converters, packages, bikes, etc.), break ins and assaults as today. Additionally, motorcycle groups blocking traffic on Westheimer and overflow parking from "Kamp" on Westheimer north along Potomac and other streets creates an unsettling atmosphere. Where are the police?
    HPD Midwest, Commander Jennifer Read: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  38. How can we help as citizens to help turn around the number of good people that would want to become HPD officers and help encourage the good ones to stay.
    HPOU, President Doug Griffith: I believe that with the current climate around the nation it is more important than ever to get involved and be engaged in what is taking place in your local police departments.  Go to PIP (Positive Interaction Program) and get to know your officers.  The more you are involved, the more officers you get to know.  This shows our officers that you support them and the mission of the department.  Officers get a feeling of accomplishment from positive interactions with the public, especially when it is outside of their policing duties.  We all have to understand that officers are nothing more than an average citizen that decided to take on an added responsibility to protect others.  It is very important that officers know that they are supported by the public, it is what drives us to be better, and work harder. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of reasons to stay with a big department when you can go to a smaller department with less stress and in most cases, more money.  It is going to take a larger budget to keep people in Houston.  We have an aging fleet of cars, with most of our vehicles having over 100 thousand miles, an outdated Report system, outdated Body Camera system, and no real “Central Police Complex”.  Our building at 1200 Travis is literally falling apart, (parts of the building are falling off), mold has been found in the water system on different floors. It is not a building conducive to a large police command center.
  39. How badly has unchecked illegal border crossing affected Houston's crime situation and what is the plan to combat it? How is morale among HPD members? Do they feel like the mayor and District Attorney have their backs? What's being done about the rise in crime since 2018 and the bond reforms that were implemented in Harris County?
    HPOU, President Doug Griffith: This is hard to determine as we do not ask about “status” when we make arrest of individuals.  I can say that there is a definite rise in “stash” houses that are being found in the Houston area.  There have been at least three large recovery cases of individuals being held in homes around the area, that were smuggled here from south of the boarder.  There is not a current plan to deal with the border issue as we are so far removed from the border. This will be more in line with our plan to deal with violent crime across Houston.

    Morale around the department is very low.  Most of this is due to the scrutiny that we are currently facing.  It is exacerbated by the “rabbit trails” that take place within our internal affairs division when looking at complaints.  With everything being viewed on body camera videos, it makes it easy to nit pick every violation of policy.  When they are more concerned about cursing in your patrol car, or taking your seatbelt off to early, as opposed to the allegation against the officer, it obviously effects the morale of the troops.  In fact, in most cases of complaints, the original allegation is cleared by the camera video, but it is a violation of one of the 500 pages of general orders that officers get in trouble for. With regard to the DA, it is pretty obvious from the current state of affairs that the DA is not necessarily friendly with police officers across the county.

    The department has done a great job to keep some of the crime lower in Houston than other cities, but until we get some relief from the courts, we will continue to see rising crime rates.  Our officers work hard to get violent offenders arrested and charged just to see the courts release them on low or no bond.  There are thousands of cases in which a suspect is arrested for a violent crime and that individual is out on multiple felony bonds.  At what point do we start to hold people accountable for their actions.  6 out of our last 7 officer involved shootings, officers were fired upon by the offender before officers were able to fire.  This is because these offenders know that there are not consequences for their actions here in Harris County.  We can all agree that keeping someone in jail on a misdemeanor charge because the do not have the money for a bond is an issue.  But we MUST find a way to keep felony suspects and violent offenders off the streets.  This can only be done through the court system. We have to hold judges accountable for releasing offenders from jail just to victimize the citizens of Houston / Harris County.

  40. My neighbor's vehicle was struck by random gunfire while parked in their driveway. Speculation is the bullet came from the direction of Hershey Park. A police report was filed with Precinct 5, but what can be done to stop some idiot from randomly discharging firearms in District G?
    Precinct 5, Constable Ted Heap: Precinct 5 patrols 63 parks and uses many innovative tools to aid in the patrol.  Along the bayous we have four wheelers that allow the deputies to travel “off road”.  We also have dedicated drones to assist in the search of missing person and fugitives. Some areas of Hershey Park can be very thick with brush and trees and unfortunately some people think this makes it a safe place to discharge their firearms, not understanding that what goes up must come down.  The law states it is a violation to discharge a firearm in a metropolitan city with a population over 500,000 people.  The other potential violation is criminal mischief.

    We will be stepping up patrols along the bayous and have deputies on the four wheelers and bicycles.  We will be coordinating with the City of Houston and Harris County to coordinate future placement of ShotSpotter. This is new technology helps local, state and federal law enforcement respond to, investigate and deter crime.  The technology suite embodies the renowned “precision policing”.  In essence, it can help determine the location a gunshot originates from.

  41. Not a question but an observation and comment. Recently I read that some people think the constables are unnecessary or that for neighborhoods that employ them they are the neighborhood’s private police force. Country Village has been part of a constable coop for over 40 years; the main reason is to control crime because HPD is much less effective, especially when it comes to response time. Whatever can be done to prevent their demise must be done. I will be out of town when you hold this meeting; I am sorry I will miss it.
    Precinct 5, Constable Ted Heap: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  42. Do we know what Lina Hidalgo plans to do with the money she took from the Constables?  Does she have a plan?
    Precinct 5, Constable Ted Heap: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  43. Why did the democrat county judges eliminate the rollover funding for our constables? Will there be a reduction in the level of service Precinct 5 residents receive?
    Precinct 5, Constable Ted Heap: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  44. When a HCSO deputy makes an arrest, what is the typical amount of time that they are out of service (10-7 ?)
    Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Major Susan Cotter: Average time they are out of service at the Joint Processing Center is about an hour. When there are initiatives being ran this results in more arrests than normal and can result in a longer than average time being out of service. Friday and Saturday nights can also get busier than other nights.
  45. Why are we not developing advanced technology that is non-lethal to manage criminals? We have the tazer, but it can only be used at close range. We have cameras, drones and robots, but they are not used extensively. The government does not want to invest in these devices, but we must.
    FBI, Special Agent in Charge Perrye Turner: The FBI does develop advanced technology to assist with combating crime. The FBI’s, Operational Technology Division (OTD), located at Quantico, Virginia, develops and deploys technology-based solutions to enable and enhance the FBI’s intelligence, national security, and law enforcement missions. OTD is staffed with a wide array of highly skilled and multi-disciplined agents, engineers, electronic technicians, forensic examiners, and analysts who support our most significant investigations and national security operations with advanced electronic surveillance, digital forensics, technical surveillance, tactical operations, and communications capabilities.

    While OTD’s work doesn’t typically make the news, the fruits of its labor are evident in the dismantling child pornography rings, identifying Cyber Crime actors, averting or exposing terrorist plots, and aiding in the prosecution of corrupt public officials.  OTD works extensively with our law enforcement and intelligence community partners at the various local, state, national, and international levels.

  46. How can we learn which judges are letting the criminals out without bail to ensure we vote against them? 2. What else can we do to help? THANK YOU for your service!
    Crime Stoppers, Director of Victim Services and Advocacy, Andy Kahn: Unless we pass bond reform legislation courts are not mandated to keep statical data on defendants released on bond who are charged with additional crimes. It's imperative we get legislation passed and that will not happen unless there is a quorum in the House.
  47. Please address crime rates in our city and the democratic judges releasing convicted felons out to continue crimes with no bail. What can citizens do to stop this from taking place ? Will public pressure be effective?
    Crime Stoppers, Director of Victim Services and Advocacy, Andy Kahn: See above: Contacting all your elected officials including City Council members and Commissioners Court. Please be aware of Judicial races in 2022 and vote accordingly.
  48. Please distribute names of judges who are releasing criminals so we can know who to vote for/against. Our police work hard to solve crimes and arrest criminals, our justice system needs to support our community.
    Crime Stoppers, Director of Victim Services and Advocacy, Andy Kahn: Unelected Magistrates often set bond for the court. Magistrates are hired by Judges to handle initial appearances during probable cause hearings including granting bail. Ultimately, the Judge is responsible for the Magistrate and can override bail decisions which we have seen done due to public outrage.
  49. How can we, the voters, track these judges who are repeatedly granting bonds in instances of felonies - especially multiple felony bonds - and in the face of the DA’s recommendation that bond not be granted.  It would be very helpful if you were to compile Twitter handles for your featured speakers - I’d like to follow a number of them.
    Crime Stoppers, Director of Victim Services and Advocacy, Andy Kahn: Please follow me on twitter @akahancrimesto1.

    HPD Chief Troy Finner @ToryFinner
    Houston Police Department @houstonpolice
    Houston Police Officer’s Union @HPOUTX
    Harris County Precinct 5 @HCpct5 @ConstableHeap
    Harris County Sheriff’s Office @HCSOTexas and @HCSO_Patrol
    Texas Department of Public Safety @TxDPSSoutheast
    FBI @FBIHouston
    Crime Stoppers @CrimeStopHOU

  50. How can we stop criminals from getting out on no or low bail?
    Crime Stoppers, Director of Victim Services and Advocacy, Andy Kahn: Elections have consequences and it's important to be educated on all Judicial candidates.
  51. Why is a person with 7 felony bonds allowed on the street to kill a woman and her baby? Why isn’t bond revoked on the second felony bond and the person placed in jail for until a trial? Who are the judges that do this?
    Crime Stoppers, Director of Victim Services and Advocacy, Andy Kahn: There used to be an adage in Harris County: One bond per customer meaning if you were charged with another crime while out on bond you were not getting a second bond. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case mostly due to the criminal justice reform movement and a change of philosophies. To date I have tracked over 125 people who have been murdered by defendants released on multiple felony bonds, felony PR bonds and bond forfeiture. Over 90 have been killed since 2020.
  52. Is the fleeing of their jobs by the Texas D’s impacting a bill that would have put judges on notice for issuing multiple PR bonds to felons? Can they be arrested upon return to Texas?
    Crime Stoppers, Director of Victim Services and Advocacy, Andy Kahn: Unless a percentage of House Democrats return to the Capital by August 7th, the bond bills will not be voted upon. Governor Abbott will again have to call another special session to get meaningful bond reform legislation. Keep in mind the bond bills received bi-partisan support in the Senate and was voted out 22-0.
  53. I was unable to attend the 7/15 townhall on crime, but saw some of it inline. Thank you for hosting it! My question is about those that are out on felony bonds…so often, we hear that they had an ankle monitor, but cut it off and then proceeded to commit more violent crimes. Shouldn’t there be some signal to whoever is monitoring the suspect that it has been tampered with or destroyed? Where is the accountability on this? There are 2 recent cases where the suspect was out & cut off the monitor and then committed murder. Perhaps ankle monitors are not the solution if they can be easily cut off with no consequences? Clearly this is not working as intended. Please help find a better solution! Thank you!
    Crime Stoppers, Director of Victim Services and Advocacy, Andy Kahn: My take on ankle monitors is simple: If the defendant wearing one wants to honor the ankle monitor conditions it's a useful tool-however if they don't nothing will prevent them from removing the monitor to reoffend.
  54. How will newly passed TX HR1927 Gun Legislation not result in significantly more street gun violence as new owner restrictions, training and certification requirements are lifted?
    Crime Stoppers, Director of Victim Services and Advocacy, Andy Kahn: Time will tell on HB 1927 therefor it would be remiss for me to speculate without any analysis on it's success or failure.
  55. Citizens reach a point where they’re doing everything they can: maintaining awareness, tricking out their homes with high-tech equipment, communicating with each other and law enforcement, arming themselves, preventing themselves from becoming an obvious target of opportunity, etc. But at some point, there has to be a realistic societal punishment for crime. What policy changes are on the horizon that would give the average citizen hope that Houston’s criminals might actually be punished for criminal behavior? Because, as other big U.S. cities are learning, once citizens do all they can and still don’t feel safe they simply move.
    Crime Stoppers, Director of Victim Services and Advocacy, Andy Kahn: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  56. How have Kim Ogg's policies affected the crime rate?
    Crime Stoppers, Director of Victim Services and Advocacy, Andy Kahn: This question was answered during the Town Hall.
  57. What is your role in creating or managing what I assume you will describe as a disaster in Houston's crime rate? What could you have done better? What changes will you personally make? What commitments to doing better or solving the problem can you make to you constituents?
    Council Member Greg Travis: The issues surrounding crime are multi-faceted – so are the roles played. As a Houston City Council Member my job is to help ensure we have a properly-equipped and well-staffed police force. Recently I introduced a budget amendment to add an additional police cadet class to ensure we have sufficient manpower on the streets. Unfortunately, I was the lone vote in support on council. I tried to stress the importance of the manpower requirements to my fellow council members, but unfortunately most of them resist seeing the facts right in front of them. I am not going to give up though. I will keep supplying my colleagues with the facts and the data proving to them that we are in a manpower crisis. I will continue to stress that if we do not act now and add more officers, we will not keep up with the attrition rate – let alone increase the force to the size we need it to be.
  58. Your speakers list is all Law Enforcement. I’m sure there will be questions about Judges letting criminals out on bond. Why don’t you have Alex Brunnin, the Chief of the Public Defenders Office and a Judge to answer that question. Race relations and crime are intertwined…why not a speaker on that subject. I suggest Eric Davis from the Public Defenders Office.
    Council Member Greg Travis: All good points. We decided to focus on the areas of law enforcement this time. This Town Hall lasted a full two hours and we could have gone on even longer – there are so many topics to cover. Perhaps we can do a Town Hall on Crime Part II with a focus on the adjudication of the crimes and include these speakers. We will look into it.
  59. The Shopping Center on Country Place and Memorial is not maintained. Broken curbs and accumulated trash from grass cutting is neglected. The COH does a terrible job in maintaining the mediums on many streets. Grass is grown high before a scheduled cut is performed. The old Apartment Complexes, should be held accountable with the tenants they are bringing into the neighborhood. Nottingham Park has become less safe because of these issues. I seldom see any Law Enforcement patrolling the West Memorial area. Who is accountable for the demise in West Memorial? Will Property values depreciate with the influx of new residents renting? Will traffic signals on spanned wires be replaced with poles? When will Houston advance to the 21st Century with regard to appearances? Thanks.
    Council Member Greg Travis: Many of the issues you highlight are unrelated to the Crime Townhall and pertain to private commercial businesses in nature.  However, for those issues which are not, please bring them to our attention by calling 311 and then our offices. I do try to spend my limited Council District Service Fund dollars in this area for items such as panel replacements, additional police patrols, unmet needs of our HFD stations, and other items. Unfortunately, it’s never enough.
  60. Will you present info on helpful programs such as the ‘Citizens on Patrol’ (COP) program?
    Council Member Greg Travis: We did not. But, you can find more information on the COP program here: houstontx.gov/police/vip.