HPD To Crack Down On East End Crime

A new crime reduction initiative will target several East End neighborhoods, the latest effort by the Houston Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to get a handle on a sharp rise in burglaries and thefts. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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At Enrique's Bike Shop on Harrisburg near 75th Street, Andres, who's repairing an old motorcycle, is happy to hear there will be more patrols in the East End. Those patrols are the result of both federal funds and money from within the police budget that will allow more overtime and on-duty officers to hit crime hot-spots.

"It's good news, more safety in the area. Six o'clock and up, I don't like it."

The Houston Police Department's own crime numbers back that up, with an increase in mostly property crimes, things like burglaries and auto thefts in what's known as the 11-H10 area of District 11, basically the East End. HPD and other law enforcement agencies will use about $110,000 to fund the 12-week initiative. Sgt. Rick Ruiz works at HPD's Magnolia Substation in the heart of the East End.

"There's nothing rigid about this program. It's basically, this week we may have a crime pattern dealing with auto thefts. Okay, let's take a look at it and see what we can do. Next week, we might have a lot of problems at clubs. Let's send the money there. There's nothing rigid. Basically, it's deal with the issues at hand."

The initiative will include curfew sweeps, vice and narcotics checks at local clubs and increased traffic enforcement. Ruiz says because of HPD's manpower shortage, any extra money helps in the fight against crime.

"We've gotten to a point in the police department because of the shortage of officers that sometimes is all the officers can do it run calls. We're not a proactive as we wish we could be because we're running from call to call. Any overtime money that can come to us to give us extra bodies and give us the ability to do so, it's helpful. I mean, it helps."

Harris County Precinct 6 deputies, HISD police and officers with the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission will be a part of the initiative. Ruiz says HPD and other agencies are doing what they can to control crime in the East End.

"We want to send the message to the community that we're listening, that we're doing our best to try to do what we can with what we have. Also to the criminals that hopefully your days are numbered. We're going to do what we can to arrest you and put you away and hopefully the judicial system will work it out."

HPD says the neighborhoods to be targeted in the crime reduction initiative account for about 40-percent of the serious crimes in District 11.

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