Over the past few years, crime has been rising everywhere in America, Houston included. According to Police Chief Troy Finner, in the past 3 years, HPD has made over 20,000 felony arrests; the first month of 2022 has already seen 40 homicides. But a new initiative could help curb that trend- in a press conference held Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Police Chief Troy Finner announced the launch of the new $44 million “One Safe Houston” crime reduction initiative.
Houstonians, it is time to take our city back. Every Houstonian deserves to feel safe.— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) February 2, 2022
Safe at home.
Safe at work.
Safe while driving down the street.
Safe while shopping and safe with their families in our parks.#hounews
Unfortunately, the increase in homicides during the first month of 2022 including assaults on police officers and citizens is a sobering reminder that we must collectively strive for excellence as a community to combat our increasing crime challenges. #hounews— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) February 2, 2022
As part of the initiative, Turner announced that HPD would be adding an additional 125 overtime HPD officers per day in areas where/when the most violent crime is happening, according to data. In addition, a new class of graduating officers will join the force in March.
As we add more police through our cadet classes, we will also— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) February 2, 2022
We will begin by putting “More Boots on the Ground” now.
I have authorized @houstonpolice to add an additional 125 officers per day on overtime. #hounews #OneSafeHouston
According to Turner’s Twitter account, the research-based #OneSafeHouston is a comprehensive violence reduction initiative that links research-based strategies to improve public safety and reduce the harm caused by violent crime.
The initiative focuses on four key areas:
- Violence reduction and crime prevention
- Crisis intervention, response and recovery
- Key community partnerships
- Youth outreach opportunities
To assist HPD, the city is also investing $1.9 million to increase the number of park rangers by 15. The park rangers will work as partners with local law enforcement to keep Houston’s parks safe.
Then, Turner brought up gone violence in the city, stating “There is no question. There are too many guns on the street”. The city is investing $1 million in a vigorous gun buy-back program to remove illegal and unwanted firearms from Houston’s streets. The program will work to target Houston’s most violent neighborhoods.
Investigative Divisions within @houstonpolice and other city departments will work together to address night club and convenience stores where repeated crimes of violence have occurred. #OneSafeHouston— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) February 2, 2022
“The city will continue to use every remaining tool to reign in crime with its limited resources,” Turner said.
He also said a big issue with Houston’s crime rates is tied to Harris County’s court backlog where there are currently more than 100,000 cases waiting, which is more than any other city in Texas, and likely more than any in the country.
“If the backlog remains this high, we will always be running, fighting, against the grain,” Turner said. “It will not work. The backlog must be addressed.” To help aid the courts, the city is giving $1.5 million in additional funding to the Houston Forensic Science Center to provide timely evidence for cases still tied up in the courts. “Ultimately what is needed is more courts, more judges, more staffing,” Turner said.
…that impact the pretrial release and prosecution of violent offenders. (2/2) #hounews— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) February 2, 2022
The press conference can be watched below: