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Posts Tagged ‘HPD’

Repair or replace?

Consider this an object lesson in the cost of deferring maintenance. A new Houston police headquarters and courthouse complex, discussed for decades, could reach a key turning point this week as Mayor Annise Parker seeks to force City Council members to choose between repairing the city’s existing facilities or tackling an enormous project to construct […]

DA’s office to help buy body cams

Very good news. Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson plans to purchase hundreds of body-worn cameras for Houston police officers and sheriff’s deputies, weeks after widespread protests erupted when a white Missouri police officer was not charged for fatally shooting an unarmed black teen. In the aftermath of the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Mo., […]

Mayor Parker wants body cameras for HPD

Good. Houston won’t wait for federal funding before buying body cameras for all of the city’s uniformed police officers, Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday, as activists launched a petition drive for an ordinance essentially mandating the mayor’s plans. Both the mayor and police chief have announced their commitment to body cameras designed to record all […]

Searching the couch cushions for loose change

That’s basically what this is. To say the city of Houston is working to cut a looming $120 million budget deficit one color copy at a time would not be accurate. It’s more like millions of color copies. Cellphones no one is using, old cars no one is driving, a 50-step process for approving fire […]

A “Mike Brown Law” for Houston

From the inbox: COMMUNITY TOWN HALL 12/4 TO DEMAND MIKE BROWN LAW HOUSTON- Hundreds plan to attend a town hall organized by Houston Justice, a grassroots activist group aimed at local criminal justice reform. The first goal is to pass necessary legislation to adopt the Mike Brown Law that requires body cams for on duty […]

Re-revisiting red light cameras

This horse is dead. Please stop beating it. Four years after Houston voters rejected red-light cameras, the divisive issue unexpectedly resurfaced Tuesday when police officials presented figures indicating that removing the cameras made 51 busy intersections more dangerous. Auto crashes have more than doubled at those intersections since voters banned use of the cameras in […]

McClelland wants more money for more cops

And I want some answers before we go along with this request. Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland asked city leaders Tuesday for an additional $105 million over five years to hire hundreds of new officers as part of a plan to shore up divisions where thousands of crimes are never investigated and bolster traffic enforcement […]

More suspects arrested from the rape kit backlog

More good news. Houston’s effort to test a nearly three-decade backlog of sexual assault kits has resulted in new charges filed against 19 people, city officials said Monday, including 10 suspects identified and arrested for the first time. One of the new suspects has been charged in connection with two assaults; another remains at large, […]

Body cameras for HPD

I’ll be very interested to see how this goes. Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland is asking City Hall for $8 million to equip 3,500 police officers over three years with small body cameras to record encounters between law enforcement and residents as a way of improving accountability and transparency. Last December, McClelland announced a pilot […]

Ogg challenges Anderson’s handling of Ryan Chandler investigation

This gets a little complicated, so stay with me. A county prosecutor who was engaged to fired Houston homicide detective Sgt. Ryan Chandler emailed him an office database search of all his cases as he was under investigation for possible criminal prosecution, according to documents released Thursday by district attorney candidate Kim Ogg. Assistant District […]

Game room lawsuit dismissed

From last week: After a lengthy tussle over new game room regulations for Harris County, a federal judge Tuesday issued an order denying requests from a local game room owner to stop the new regulations. “The game room situation in Harris County is a big problem,” said Fred Keys, an assistant attorney for Harris County. […]

Grits on the HPD staffing debate

Grits weighs in on the HPD no-investigations story with some suggestions for how to proceed. Here’s how to boost the number of police officers available on patrol while freeing up officers to work as detectives in the burglary and other backlogged divisions: Implement verified response for burglar alarm calls, requiring alarm companies to verify a […]

We need more context to the HPD no-investigations issue

Regular commenter Steven Houston left this feedback on my “More reaction to the HPD no-investigations report” post. It raises some good points and helped me focus my thinking on a couple of things, so I wanted to reproduce it and react to it here. I’ve commented on this issue for years, including a number of […]

On cops and the revenue cap

Mayor Parker again calls attention to the city’s stupid revenue cap and the things it will prevent the city from doing if it is left in place. If Houston voters do not want police pulled from the streets next year, Mayor Annise Parker says, they better think twice about a cap on city revenues they […]

More reaction to the HPD no-investigations report

I’m not the only one that wasn’t impressed by Chief McClelland’s response. [Burglary victim Heather] Heinke’s experience is not unusual in the nation’s fourth-largest city. A recent HPD staffing study says that 15,000 burglaries and thefts, 3,000 hit-and-run crashes and 3,000 assaults were simply set aside last year without a follow-up investigation. Houston police commanders […]

McClelland’s response

I have to say, I’m not impressed. Defending his department’s failure to investigate thousands of crimes last year, Police Chief Charles McClelland on Thursday said the understaffed Houston Police Department does not and should not have a goal of aggressively probing every crime reported to it. “We work violent crimes first. If someone steals your […]

Those uninvestigated criminal cases

To say the least, this is big news. The Houston Police Department, already reeling from a scandal involving shoddy work in its homicide unit, was dealt another blow Monday when a report revealed that some 20,000 burglary, theft, assault and hit-and-run cases with workable leads were not investigated in 2013. The authors of the city-commissioned […]

The cars in the bayous

Boy, does this sound like a great opening to a crime novel. Houston’s bayous, dotted by marshy banks and filled with bass and catfish, weave through the city, providing an appealing landscape for joggers and cyclists. But beneath the murky, brown waters is something not as pleasant: a makeshift dumping ground of cars, trucks and […]

The other three foot rule

This is a little bold for my taste. A Houston bicyclist is testing a year-old safety ordinance intended to ensure motorists don’t get closer than three feet from riders. While riding in the designated bike lanes of the Memorial area this month, Dan Morgan has been filming drivers who hit a flag pole sticking out […]

Council approves hoarding ordinance

I think they’re on the right track. The Houston City Council unanimously approved an anti-hoarding ordinance Wednesday without a clear idea of how it will be enforced. The ordinance, which does not apply to single-family homes, clarifies when police can seek a warrant to enter a home and prioritizes mental health treatment before turning to […]

HPD’s good, bad, and ugly

The good news is that the testing of backlogged rape kits has led to the identification of a serial rapist in Houston. Houston police on Tuesday for the first time identified a criminal suspect – a possible serial rapist – from testing of sexual assault kits that once gathered dust in the police property room. […]

Goal Zero Fatalities plan for bikes adopted

From the Mayor’s office: Mayor Annise Parker today announced the City and BikeHouston are joining forces to launch a major bike safety campaign to enforce and educate motorists and cyclists about the existing Safe Passing Ordinance, as well as create a Bicycle Master Plan for the City. “As the name of this program implies, the […]

HPD crime lab update

The man who wrote the report detailing all of the HPD crime lab’s problems was back to give a progress report on how things look now. Houston police managers at the once-shuttered crime lab have failed to re-examine tests on DNA, blood and most other forensic evidence on a random basis to ensure the results […]

More details on the rape kit backlog results

HPD reports to Council about the progress of testing done on the backlogged rape kits. No false arrests by Houston police have been uncovered during an ongoing $4.4 million testing of thousands of old rape kits, but new suspects have been developed with DNA, leading to an undisclosed number of arrests, police commanders told City […]

Clearing the rape kit backlog is producing results

Very promising results. Private forensic laboratories hired to clear the Houston Police Department’s untested DNA evidence – including a decades-old rape kit backlog – have identified potential offenders in a third of the cases where sufficient DNA samples were found, according to a HPD report. […] Since the HPD lab resumed operations about six years […]

Funding after school programs

This should be a no-brainer. To combat youth crime, a former Houston police chief says the city must first solve another problem: unstable and inadequate funding for after-school programs. City Councilman C.O. Bradford said it is more urgent than ever to make after-school programs a public-safety priority as federal grants continue to dwindle or expire, […]

Murder by numbers 2013

The beginning of the new year means a look back at the homicide count for the previous year. Homicides are up in unincorporated Harris County, where the Sheriff’s Office is reporting a nearly 20 percent uptick in 2013, preliminary year-end statistics show. Killings in 2013 totaled 91 as of Tuesday – the second-highest tally in […]

Police cameras

It’s disappointing that Houston lags behind other cities in using dashboard cameras in police cars, but I am glad to see we are trying to catch up. Houston police have fewer dashboard cameras than any major Texas law enforcement agency, providing them with little of the recorded evidence that other departments have to determine whether […]

The new justice complex

It’s a big deal. Houston leaders are in the early stages of planning a new police headquarters and courthouse complex that Mayor Annise Parker said could be the most important project on which she will work during her six-year tenure. There is little question the city’s criminal justice facilities are fading. Houston’s central jail at […]

More security cameras coming

You’re being recorded, like it or not. Houston is adding 180 downtown surveillance cameras despite shrinking national security grants and research showing that video feeds only sometimes improve public safety. By early next year, the Houston Police Department will have nearly 1,000 camera feeds available. Most record public areas around downtown, stadiums and event spaces […]

City settles longstanding litigation with strip clubs

From the Mayor’s press release: Recognizing Houston is a hub for human trafficking, the City and 16 area topless clubs have entered into a novel settlement agreement aimed at addressing this heinous crime, ending litigation dating back to 1997 when City Council imposed new regulations on sexually-oriented businesses. “In the 16 years since City Council […]

Bradford calls for review of HPD oversight

He’s right that something needs to be done to ensure that people feel confident in the system. Houston City Councilman and former Police Chief C.O. “Brad” Bradford said citizens have lost faith in the city’s oversight of the use of force by police officers, and it’s time for a discussion on how to restore confidence […]

A deeper look at the city’s pension funds

I appreciate this just-the-facts analysis of the city’s pension funds. It’s delightfully free of fearmongering and doomsaying, which tend to cloud most stories on the funds. I don’t have anything specific to say about the article, but I do want to make a few general points about the city’s pension situation. 1. I reject the […]

Going after the dumpers

Glad to see this. City Council District B will be the site of a pilot program in which five surveillance video cameras have been placed in undisclosed locations, [Mayor Annise] Parker announced. The cameras will be monitored in real time by the Houston Police Department’s Environmental Investigations Unit, which will relay information about illegal dumping […]