Criminal Justice

Houston, Harris County gets $2 million Department of Justice grant to reduce violent crimes

The new initiative will include prosecutors from the Criminal Division’s organized Crime and Gang section, investigative agents, analyst, forensic experts from the FBI, HPD and HCSO.

Shavonne Herndon / Houston Public Media
HPD Chief Troy Finner at Yates High School to announce a DOJ partnership to address crime.

Houston and Harris County will get $2 million as part of a nationwide grant program to help communities reduce gun crime and other serious violence.

On Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite and U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery joined leaders from federal and local law enforcement agencies to announce a first-of-its-kind initiative targeting violent crimes in the Houston area.

"We will employ a data driven approach to first identify and then prosecute the worst of the worst gangs and gang members who are disproportionately responsible for the violent crime gripping this community," Polite said. "Everyone should feel safe in their homes, in their neighborhoods. Unfortunately, violent crime deprives too many of our communities of that fundamental security."

The new initiative will include prosecutors from the Criminal Division's organized Crime and Gang section, investigative agents, analyst, forensic experts from the FBI, HPD, HCSO and more.

The Department of Justice is awarding $100 million worth of similar grants across the United States.

"Together we will work coordinated, targeted, intelligence driven efforts with our law enforcement partners," U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery said. "As a team, we will develop strong cases where the defendants who possess the greatest danger to threats to the community will be arrested, will not be released, and will receive significant prison sentences. But second, we’re going to educate, train and support the citizen."

Programs include the Chance program, reentry programs, community policing and de-escalation training, as well as safeguarding communities and mentoring programs.

There are also initiatives to help prevent school violence.

"We as a school district are taking steps to prepare for a variety of situations concerning safety. We’ve already upgraded fencing, added cameras, invested in police equipment and so much more that that’s on the horizon as well," Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II explained. "Now, as a district, we are always collaborating with our schools and community to assess what we have in place and really plan for the future as well. The work never stops because our environment continuously changes. Today, we take another step further in meeting the moment by continuing to collaborate with safety leaders and partners nationwide."

"Know that we will be part of this community going forward. Far after any single prosecution ends," added Polite. "We are not above, we are not below, we are not outside of this community. We are part of this community."

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required