HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner and other local leaders across Houston spoke at a Violence Prevention Conference hosted at NRG Center Tuesday, saying despite the high rate of crime, Houston is not the “murder capital” of the United States.
The conference brought together professionals and practitioners from a broad spectrum of disciplines working to address violence in their communities, according to the event page for the conference.
In addition, leaders would provided the best practices to implement and evaluate sustainable prevention programs to respond to violence and victims, the event page said.
The conference included an array of attendees and officials that work in public policy, social justice, law enforcement, public health, academia, community and non-profit organizations.
While speaking at the conference, Turner said a total of $2.5 million has been used for the implementation of the Cure Violence Program in targeted communities. In addition, Turner said the city helped the youth with the Hire Houston Youth program by providing 14,000 job opportunities for youth ages 16-24 this summer. The goal is to take that number up to 20,000.
“Do we want to provide support to our police? Yes, and are we doing that? Yes. But at the same time, let’s be very clear that we are dealing with a public health crisis,” Turner said. “And if we don’t respond accordingly, we are not going to make our city safer.”
Turner also commented on multiple recent violent incidents across the city, including when an evicted man set fire to his rental property and fatally shot multiple people.
“If we had 50,000 police in the city of Houston, they would not have been able to stop that incident,” Turner said.
Each year, the conference aims to help leaders examine the issue of violence and identify the root causes with evidence-based policy and public health approaches.