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Posts Tagged ‘HPD’

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 […]

We must destroy the pensions in order to save them

There’s so much wrong with this I almost don’t know where to begin. Houston is the Titanic – it certainly looks impressive, but icebergs lie ahead. That’s the image that mayoral candidate Ben Hall drew when he talked to the Houston Chronicle editorial board last week. No debate here. Like an iceberg on the horizon, […]

HPD disciplinary matters

Having recently talked about mayoral plans for crimefighting in Houston, let me recommend that you read Emily DePrang’s excellent two-part story about the discipline process at the Houston Police Department – here’s part one, Crimes Unpunished, and part two, The Horror Every Day. This would be something that a Mayor ought to try to get […]

Hall’s five point crimefighting plan

From the inbox: Houstonians do not feel safe in their homes and their communities. Houston’s crime numbers remain dangerously high and criminals are victimizing us daily. The only thing we hear from the Mayor’s office on this issue is silence. It is unacceptable. “As Mayor, I will make sure that criminals know this City belongs […]

Rape kit backlog eliminated

More good news. For the first time in its history, the Houston Police Department doesn’t have a backlog of rape kits that haven’t been tested. The backlog, which at one point totalled 6,600 untested rape kits, was eliminated by sending the kits to outside labs, Chief Charles McClelland said. “There is no backlog regarding DNA […]

Mayor Parker kicks off her campaign

It’s the time of the season for Mayor Parker, who has a serious challenger this time, but also a stronger hand to play. In her tenure, Parker has given teeth to the city’s historic preservation rules, broken a deadlock with Harris County to help build the Dynamo stadium, gave scandal-ridden Metro new leaders and revised […]

Where does the crime lab go from here?

Now that there’s a plan in place to clear the longstanding crime lab backlog, the question is what should we expect from the crime lab going forward? “It’s sort of hard to build a house when you’re trying to dig yourself out of a hole,” said Scott Hochberg, chairman of the Houston Forensic Science Local […]

What to expect from clearing the rape kit backlog

As you know, two weeks ago Mayor Parker announced that the city would allocate funds to clear the backlog of rape kits, thus bringing to a conclusions one of the city’s longest-standing issues. City Council has now unanimously approved the plan, in which out of state labs will provide the analyses. What was fascinating to […]

Clearing the rape kit backlog

Some excellent news from the Mayor’s office. Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston Police Department today announced details of a plan that will eliminate the backlog of untested sexual assault kits (SAK). Under the plan, which will be formally considered by Houston City Council next week, the untested kits will be sent to two outside […]

There’s gold in them thar pawn shops

This is a police story and a Helena Brown story, because everything is better when it’s a Helena Brown story. Houston City Council on Wednesday passed new rules on precious metals dealers despite a lengthy attempt to water down the ordinance by Councilwoman Helena Brown, who called it “safety theater” that would burden businesses and […]

City pension funds make their case

This deserves more visibility than it’s gotten. Representatives of Houston’s three employee pension boards told a Houston City Council committee Monday that the sky is not falling and pleaded with council members to be patient in examining the city’s pension obligations. The presentations from the firefighters’ pension, the municipal employees’ pension and the police pension […]

Murder by numbers continued

There are two ways to look at this. Houston averaged slightly more than four murders a week during 2012, unofficial figures indicate, inching up from 2011 when the total dropped to the lowest point since 1966. In unincorporated Harris County, an early total suggests a three-year decline in murders may continue. Houston police reported 216 […]

Former HPD lab supervisor files sues Lykos, county

Here’s a nice little going away present for District Attorney Pat Lykos. Two former Houston Police Department crime lab supervisors have filed a federal lawsuit against Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos, saying the county’s top prosecutor retaliated against them after they spoke out about problems with HPD’s breath-alcohol testing vans. The lawsuit, filed Monday, […]

Strip clubs sue city over $5 fee

Remember the $5 per customer strip club fee that was added as a budget amendment by CM Ellen Cohen as a way to fund clearing HPD’s backlog of rape kits? The clubs threatened to sue the city at the time this was debated, and last Thursday they followed through on that threat. In the lawsuit […]

The Sheriff’s Crisis Intervention team

It’s a really good idea. Crisis intervention teams, tagged to respond to calls involving mentally disturbed subjects, reflect a new wave of law enforcement thinking pioneered by the Memphis, Tenn., Police Department in the 1980s. Such efforts have received renewed attention after a Houston police officer last week fatally shot a mentally ill double-amputee who […]

After school programs

I see a lot of merit in this. After-school programs prevent crime, Councilman C.O. Bradford said, so some of them should be paid for by the police. “This sounds strange to hear a gun-packing, badge-toting, 24-year cop talking about this,” said Bradford, Houston’s former police chief, but he proposes hiring 20 fewer police officers in […]

Council approves funding for sobering center

Good. City Council agreed Wednesday to spend $4.3 million to outfit a warehouse at Star of Hope Mission and $353,000 a year to operate it as a place to take drunks instead of jail. City officials expect the 84-bed facility to open later this year and justified the expense on the hope that it will […]

The murder rate is the same as it was last year

There’s no evidence to suggest otherwise at this time. Though Houston is not in any danger of reclaiming the unenviable title of “murder capital of the United States,” murders in the city jumped 17 percent during the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year. There were 105 murders from […]

Spending a little to save a lot

Remember HPD’s Chronic Consumer Stabilization Program, in which the police department attempted to deal with some of the people who interact with them the most often in a better, more humane, and more cost-effective way? Well, it’s been working. Since the program began, run-ins between police and the top 30 chronic consumers have declined by […]

Council approves Mayor’s crime lab plan

It’s a done deal. City Council has appointed a nine-member board to oversee the city’s crime lab, the first step in yanking it from police department control and setting up a publicly funded non-profit corporation to do evidence testing. The vote was 15-2. [...] Though Council members supported the mayor’s proposal to try to insulate […]