Criminal Justice

The city will spend $44 million on new programs and police overtime after a recent crime wave

The plan includes increased patrols around busy shopping areas, night clubs and convenience stores that have been trouble spots for violent crime.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, right, speaks next to Mayor Sylvester Turner, left, during a news conference, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Houston, after several people died and scores were injured during a music festival the night before.

The city of Houston will spend $44 million on violence prevention programs and police overtime to slow a recent surge in violent crime, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Wednesday.

The "One Safe Houston" initiative provides money for a number of community-based programs, the city's latest effort to get a handle on rampant violent crime in Houston. Homicides and violent assaults have skyrocketed since the beginning of January, including a number of high-profile shootings involving law enforcement officers. There have been 40 homicides so far this year in Houston, Turner said at a city hall press conference.

“This is a public health crisis, and as a city, we will and must address the crisis through law enforcement, public health practitioners and community partners working together,” Turner said.

The cornerstone of the plan is to pay overtime to 125 extra police officers each day to patrol high crime areas in the city. Turner says that component will cost the city nearly $6 million and target areas that have seen the most violent crime. The plan includes increased patrols around busy shopping areas, night clubs and convenience stores that have been trouble spots for violent crime.

The plan includes funding for what Turner called "violence interrupters," community leaders who will look for ways to solve disputes at the neighborhood level before they turn violent. It will also pay for 15 new park rangers, a gun buy-back program and more crisis intervention teams.

The crime surge in Houston has included several violent incidents involving local law enforcement — most recently, a chase that ended with three Houston Police officers shot by a suspect near downtown last week. On Jan. 23, a Harris County Precinct 5 Corporal was killed during a traffic stop in southwest Houston.

The plan also includes funding Turner hoped would reduce the backlog of criminal cases in local courts. The city will provide $1.5 million in funding to the Houston Forensic Science Center to help clear the backlog that has delayed hundreds of criminal cases during the pandemic.

The public safety initiative comes after similar efforts that both Turner and Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said helped reduce many nonviolent crimes in the city.

"We will not let criminals to take over our city," Finner said. "We're not here today to point fingers, we're here to talk facts, but at the same time, we're getting busy in this city."

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Jack Williams

News Anchor

Jack is back in Houston after some time away working in public radio and television in Lincoln, Nebraska. Before leaving for the Midwest, he worked in various roles at Houston Public Media from 2000-2016, including reporting, hosting and anchoring. Jack has also worked in commercial news radio in Houston, Austin...

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