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Harris County Beefs Up DA’s Environmental Crimes Division In Wake of ITC, KMCO Disasters

The move comes two months after Democratic county commissioners blocked a similar proposal by the District Attorney’s Office, as part of a request to hire 102 new prosecutors.

Commissioners Court
Andrew Schneider/Houston Public Media
Vivian King, Harris County DA’s Office chief of staff (second from left), addresses Harris County Commissioners Court

Harris County is taking steps to crack down on environmental crimes, as County commissioners voted unanimously to spend $850,000 to beef up the environmental division of the District Attorney's Office.

The funds will hire four prosecutors, two investigators and two support staffers to deal with everything from illegal dumping to industrial accidents.

The move comes just two months after Democrats on the Commissioners Court rejected a request by the DA's Office to hire 102 new prosecutors. Republican Commissioner Steve Radack asked Vivian King, the DA's chief of staff, whether this latest request had been part of the earlier one.

"I just want to clarify that this is one of these twists of fate, that all of a sudden, you're going to get what you need when this court rejected what you needed a few weeks ago," Radack said.

"Yes, sir," King answered.

In other words, the DA’s initial request for more prosecutors had been made weeks before the explosions at the ITC chemical plant in Deer Park and the KMCO plant in Crosby.


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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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