HOUSTON – Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said Wednesday that cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the public is the key to fighting the city’s rise in violent crime.
Less than a month into 2021, Houston homicide detectives are already investigating 30 cases as of Wednesday morning, according to Acevedo. He said that is an increase over the same period last year. He said it’s a problem that is not unique to Houston.
“I was actually on the phone with the San Antonio police chief this morning,” Acevedo said. “I’ve been on the phone with the L.A. police chief, New York commissioner. It’s a phenomenon we’re seeing nationwide, and quite frankly, we’ve got a lot of work to do in society.”
Acevedo said the Houston Police Department is doing what it can with the resources it has, including approving extra overtime, redirecting specialized response teams and adding more detectives to the homicide division.
“We have to continue to look internally, to be able to squeeze as much as we can of what we call 5,300 police officers that hasn’t grown in 20 years,” Acevedo said. “We have to do our part, but ultimately, we all have to do our part. We need our community to work with us. We need them to continue to be vigilant and to actually report crime.”
HPD Executive Assistant Chief Matt Slinkard said the goal is to add 20 homicide detectives and the city is about halfway to that goal. He said the division’s clearance rate for homicide cases is up to 62%.
Acevedo suggested that troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety patrolling the state freeway system in Houston would help free up HPD officers to concentrate on city streets and city crime.
“It would be very helpful, instead of the rhetoric, that the state patrol all freeways in the state of Texas,” Acevedo said. “It’s state property. Respond for service, enforce the transportation code, investigate crashes, and I think if we did that then we can relieve a lot of our resources.”
The chief said he is also in talks with Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg about how their agencies can work together to combat violent crime. He said stiffer charges and fewer bonds would go a long way to addressing the issue.
“We’ve got to create an environment where the criminals are afraid and not victims and witnesses,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo said more funding from the federal government will also aid crime-fighting efforts in cities left cash-strapped by the coronavirus pandemic.
You can watch a replay of Acevedo’s news conference below: