February 03, 2009
Heights crime prevention townhall report

Here's the Chron story on that crime prevention townhall meeting in the Heights that I mentioned the other day.

In response to several recent home invasions and a rash of burglaries in and around Houston Heights, city officials have given the Houston Police Department more money for additional patrols and overtime, Chief Harold Hurtt told a neighborhood meeting Monday night.

"We really do understand your concern, and we are doing everything within our resources to make Houston a safer community," Hurtt told an overflow crowd in a small meeting room at the Houston Heights public library branch.

Crime in January was down 19 percent in the largely affluent area compared to the same period in 2008, just as crime last year was down compared to 2007, Hurtt said at a town hall meeting sponsored by U.S. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, who ran the event.

But a significant increase in home burglaries and robberies in January and the publicized home invasions, rare for this part of the city, have increased public concern.

"We've had four home invasions since the first of the year ­­-- that gets everybody's attention," said Capt. Mark Holloway of HPD's central patrol division, which includes Houston Heights, Woodland Heights and adjacent neighborhoods.

"Robberies are crimes that instill fear in everyone," he said. "I spoke with the robbery captain today, and he's utilizing every resource at his disposal to apprehend those responsible."

Good to hear. It is the home invasions - one in particular that involved an armed robber accosting a man and his child, and firing a couple of shots at them as they made an escape - that has stirred up the most anxiety, going by the neighborhood message boards. There's been talk about funding constable patrols and other things like that. You can be sure that all the District H candidates will get a thorough vetting on these points as well.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 03, 2009 to Crime and Punishment

It's hard to believe that the Heights area is the only area that has seen an increase in home invasions - the reality is they are increasing throughout the city.

As the economy worsens, the crime rate will increase. Along with the racial rhetoric. The only real solution is increasing the number of police officers. Which isn't likely to happen any time soon. It's a problem quite a few cities are having to deal with. Increasing crime rates and decreasing numbers of police officers.

We have our own war here at home. Instead we have funded a war in Iraq. We are losing both wars. Congress needs to decide which war it wants to win. The one here or the one there.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on February 3, 2009 10:47 PM

For those of us who have attended meetings at the Heights Library meeting room, it was to be expected to be packed to the max, a small venue for a very hot topic.

It is an interesting cycle of events. Generally, as the economy gets bad crime increases. The global economy is crashing down and likely the city's economy will suffer - by some estimates the economy will continue to get worst for up to five years and will take 10 to 20 years to recover. The stock market in the past year has lost almost 50% of its value.

As the city's revenues go down we will have an increase in crime and an increase in unemployment, both will stress city's services. In addition, it has been indicated that the city does not have the funds to pay into the city's staff retirement plan but it is now having to invest more in additional police services.

Looks like we will have some challenges ahead. Perhaps it is time to start thinking a little differently. Maybe it is time for HPD to focus more on neighborhood patrol and less time giving tickets to highway drivers.

Posted by: Gonzalo Camacho on February 4, 2009 3:08 AM
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