4 things Houston police chief says officers will focus on in 2018

By Lea Wilson - Digital News Editor, Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor

HOUSTON - Houston police Chief Art Acevedo on Monday laid out his plan to make the city safer this year during the kickoff of the annual “March on Crime” initiative.

The chief pointed out that the understaffed police force was able to reduce violent crimes in 2017, and that year-to-date the crime rate is also down. However, he said there is more that can be done to protect citizens.

1. Move to risk-based bond system

Acevedo said his department is working with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to make bond decisions more about the risk the offender poses to the community instead of their ability to pay.

2. Find better ways to use HPD’s resources

The chief said that there are currently 5,170 gun and badge-wearing officers on the streets of Houston, but that number is hundreds less than a city of Houston’s size requires. 

Acevedo said the department will continue looking at ways to efficiently use its resources.

3. Prevent violent crime

Acevedo said that he wants the department to be data- and intelligence-driven, saying the shifts of homicide and gang detectives are being modified to put them where they are needed most. More resources are being devoted to night shifts, when most of those crimes are happening, Acevedo said.
The chief said his department is teaming up with federal authorities to more aggressively find and prosecute gang members.

“The chances of being caught are going up exponentially,” Acevedo said.

A plan is being developed to take a zero-tolerance approach to domestic and family violence, Acevedo said. With domestic and sexual assaults being the most underreported crimes, Acevedo said, he wants victims to know that they will be believed.

“We will take you seriously,” Acevedo said. “It’s never the victim’s fault.”

Acevedo said that he will also work to get firearms out of the hands of perpetrators of assaults.

4. Get low-level offenders help

Acevedo said his department is also working on a plan to get low-level offenders who are suffering from mental illness help.

The chief described the plan as a diversion program aimed at keeping those with mental illness who have committed minor offenses out of jail.

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