Houston, Harris County authorities promise to crack down on parolees

By Keith Garvin - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez are promising to get tougher on parolees inside Harris County.

Their pledge comes just hours after the man they call a serial killer was arrested Tuesday morning after a week-long spree that led to three killings, a shooting and a home burglary.

Jose Rodriguez had been on parole from prison before officials said he cut off his ankle monitor days before the alleged crimes.

"Look at what these ankle monitors mean. Absolutely nothing," Acevedo said. "They cut them off and then we have three dead people."

HPD said there are approximately 18,000 parolees in Harris County. Six hundred of them are considered extremely high risk. Unlike many other states Texas parole agents are not peace officers so they need to call on law enforcement to capture parolees who flee -- a process known as absconding.

"We want to rollout the unwelcome mat for parolees," Acevedo said. "They need to know that in Harris County and the city of Houston, and in all the cities in our county that it is not a county that is gonna play. We're done."

The Sheriff's Office and Houston Police Department call the issue of absconding a statewide problem. One proposal to fix it in Harris County is the creation of a task force of all the city departments in Harris County -- plus the Sheriff's Office itself to track down parolees when they go incognito.

"They are not going to like living here unless they are interested in becoming responsible members of this community," Acevedo said.

Acevedo and Gonzalez also said they will look to state lawmakers to pass legislation in the next session that will increase penalties on parolees who flee. They'd also like to see bond for jail inmates awaiting trial to be increased.

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