Houston Police Recruiting Communities
by: Laurie Johnson, April 14, 2009 9:04:26 pm
Outside the Fiesta on Wayside, more than 50 people gathered to see the Houston Police Department open a mobile command unit in the parking lot. The unit is there as part of the Keep Houston Safe Campaign. HPD Assistant Chief John Trevino says he grew up in the East End and its now much safer than years ago.
"There is some property crime issues that we're dealing with and we're reaching out to the community to get partnerships with folks to take kind of a responsibility for making sure they don't leave things in their car, locking up their vehicles and things like that. But violent crime in this area is significantly down and we've seen a big move in issues like robberies and assaults and things like that on the down side."
The Keep Houston Safe campaign will put officers into neighborhood hot spots where they can crack down on trouble areas. Chief Michael Thaler says they'll also spend time meeting with business owners and civic clubs to enlist support from the community.
"Over 30 years ago now, when I first came to the police department, the issues about crime were always put on the police back. Anything dealing with crime, we thought we could solve it. We have now learned over the many years that it takes more than just us. As we clear out a park that may have a narcotics issue or any other things, we need the community to step up and begin using that park for lawful activities, so the individuals that want to apply in criminal enterprises do not come back."
When HPD zones in on a particular neighborhood, they generally see a reduction in violent crime of 20 to 30 percent.
Houston Councilmember James Rodriguez represents the East End and says the challenge is to keep the community involved even after the campaign is over.
"It's a 60-day project, but after that we still need the help of the community to report those crimes, to not be afraid or timid in coming forward. You can remain anonymous, you don't have to give your name. But if we do see a rise in activity, I'll be back at the mayor's office, knocking at the door, asking for more support, more boots on the ground out here."
HPD is taking the Keep Houston Safe campaign from sector to sector throughout the city. They just completed one in the Heights, with a 20 percent reduction in crime.
Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.