HPD Making Progress in SW Houston

The Houston Police Department reports it is making progress fighting hot spots of criminal activity in southwest Houston. Several initiatives have been underway since the end of last year. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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HPD's crime fighting efforts have included taskforces with names like NET and U-NET. One program used a van to move among neighborhoods. While some of the initiatives have been citywide, most of the effort has been in southwest Houston. Several weeks ago, HPD narrowed its target to five apartment complexes officials say have been hotspots of criminal activity. HPD Captain Don McKinney says it started with undercover officers and this past weekend included uniformed officers on bike and foot as well as patrol cars.

"There have been 185 felony arrests, four of which were gang relate. 124 misdemeanor arrests, five of which were gang related. We have seized 415 grams of crack cocaine, 1,035 grams of powder cocaine, almost 2,000 grams of marijuana, 43 grams of heroine."

HPD Captain M.E. Lentschki says 100 additional officers are being brought into the area to enhance police presence in four southwest districts. She says early results show the number of aggravated assaults dropped from more than 100 to 73.

"So we've reduced that by 30 percent or we've had an impact on 30 percent. Again, these are preliminary numbers and we still have a long way to go, but burglaries, 20 percent, robberies dropped by nine percent."

While the police can measure progress in numbers, Keisha Booker tells progress by how things look outside her window around the Fondron - West Belfort area.

"Makes me feel like it matters, that somebody does care about what's happening to us and someone is noticing that there was an increase in our area. Because we had an increase in the population and we already had high crime rates in the area and now at least someone is trying to do something about it."

Houston Mayor Bill White acknowledged much of the added police presence is in areas where many Katrina evacuees are living.

"One reason for the increase police presence is we have more potential victims and more citizens to be protected in that area."

White thanked the citizens, police officers and the Harris County District Attorneys office. HPD officials say cases referred to the DA's office increased ten percent over last year, which was a record breaking year. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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