Judge Lina Hidalgo announces new policing, violent crime reduction initiative

‘Harris County Safe’ program will use data and mapping to target violent crime micro-zones in Harris County.

Here's what we know

HOUSTON – Judge Lina Hidalgo announced Tuesday another public safety proposal designed to reduce crime in the most violence-prone areas of unincorporated Harris County.

The “Harris County Safe” program will use data to identify seven micro-zones where violent crime is concentrated and increase police visibility in those areas. with “precision policing.”

If approved by Harris County Commissioners Court, the $2.6 million program will be supported by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and involve a substantial community engagement component designed to inform, work with, and seek input from impacted communities.

Hidalgo said the plan will increase police visibility where violent crime is concentrated and prioritize street-level deterrence and arrest of repeat offenders in seven areas identified through mapping, data, and analysis.

According to Hidalgo, law enforcement has been using ineffective tools that have become outdated when it comes to effective policing.

“We are strategically pinpointing and then attacking crime, and the best part is we are doing it hand-in-hand with the community,” Hidalgo said Tuesday.

Hidalgo said other things the program focuses on are an increase police visibility in the area while engaging and informing the community. Hidalgo said tools like body cameras will help to make sure the program’s impact is not disproportionate amongst communities.

Commissioner’s court has increased the budgets for every law enforcement agency in the county, including constables and the district attorney. Hidalgo said the county has invested millions of dollars to support law enforcement to focus on the most violent crimes by approving additional overtime funding for detectives in the Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s Violent Crimes, Adult Special Crimes, and Child Abuse units.

Hidalgo said the county has also improved information sharing, expedited investigations, and targeted investigations focusing on repeat offenders and organized criminal activity in known hotspots. Additionally, unused public safety funds have been identified and reinvested to address recent increases in gun-related crime.

About the Author: