Officials Target Rampant Crime in Northwest Houston

Rampant crime and gang activity in a neighborhood in northwest Houston has officials and residents there ready to fight back. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, a new multi-agency anti-crime initiative to take back the streets.

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It's clear from the look on his face that Bob Mays isn't happy. He's lived near Antoine and 290 for most of the past three decades and has seen his neighborhood decline quickly. Now, standing near some run-down apartments, he says things have gotten even worse.

"Ten years ago, maybe 15 before these apartments were built, we didn't have any problems. This was an ideal neighborhood. It's historically true that as subdivisions and areas age they do have a tendency for people to move in that aren't the most desirable and the crime increases."

On average, Houston police and other law enforcement agencies answer about 1800 service calls a month in a relatively small area along and around Antoine. Most of the calls are either drug or gang-related. Now, officials with the Near Northwest Management District say they'll look for answers and put together a plan to make the area safer. Management District executive director Roy Millmore says something has to be done.

"There are actually cooking labs in these vacant apartment complexes and they're right next door, God forbid, to some very small children and good, decent people that are scared to death and for whatever reason are trapped in these communities. We must stand-up and fight for them and we will continue to do so. This is not a one or a two-day effort. We will sustain order maintenance and we will not go away."

Officials will survey residents in the area and put together a detailed document on the problems in the area, and then deploy resources to solve those problems. Ed Gallagher is with the US Attorney's office and says he and others will do all they can to help the effort.

"We do have a crime problem in this area of Houston. We are cognizant of that and we'll work closely with the district attorney, with the various federal agencies, particularly the DEA and the weed and seed concept, that is weeding out the criminal element and seeding-in the good element through law enforcement, through community effort."

City Councilwoman Toni Lawrence, who lived in the area when she was growing-up in Houston, the city is ready to do what it has to do to make sure people feel safe where they live.

"There's a saying as you walk out of my office by Winston Churchill that says "Never, never, never give up" and we haven't and we won't. This is a show of the force that we're ready to come at to end the gangs and the drugs in this area."

In an early sweep of several apartment complexes in the area, police officers have arrested at least half a dozen drug and gang suspects.

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