HPD Anticipates Increase in Crime Early Next Year

The Houston Police Department anticipates an increase in crime after the first of the year. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, department officials believe when FEMA funding runs out for Katrina evacuees, crime could go up.

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Houston was recently named the fourth most dangerous city in the nation and Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt says the city's crime rate was directly affected by the Louisiana evacuees.

"They definitely had an impact on our homicide rate. And as you know, the robbery rate also went up."

HPD expects those rates could rise again early next year. Subsidies for FEMA housing are expected to run out in February. Hurtt says he's discussed the issue with Houston Mayor Bill White and told the mayor when housing runs out, people may end up on the streets which leads to more crime.

"I've also told the mayor that we would possibly be coming back asking for additional overtime funding after the first of the year, as well as for the FY'08 fiscal year, because we don't think all of the people are going back."

Hurtt says the department will need an additional $10 million to $25 million to prepare for the situation. Hurtt also cautioned Houston residents not to discriminate against Katrina evacuees, saying the majority of them are law-abiding citizens. But he acknowledged an ongoing crime problem among the evacuee community and noted 25 Louisiana fugitives are still at large more than a year after Hurricane Katrina. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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