Report indicates HPD seriously understaffed

HOUSTON - It's no secret the Houston Police Department is critically understaffed.

But a new report out today is putting a spotlight on thousands of crime cases not being investigated because of a lack of personnel.

"If you're watching this at home and you've had something stolen you know that's the case. We don't have the manpower to investigate them," Ray Hunt of the Houston Police Officer's Union said.

An independent study requested by the city uncovered nearly 15,000 burglary and theft cases, nearly 3,000 minor assaults and nearly 3,000 hit and runs were not investigated in 2013 because of a shortage of police.

"It's got to concern every citizen in the city of Houston," city councilman Michael Kubosh said. "That we have cases with good leads and we're not doing anything about it. We've got to work cases, we've got to beef up our police department."

Mayor Annise Parker has requested funding for three cadet classes in her proposed budget. Beefing up the police department carries a hefty price tag, estimated between $80 million to more than $100 million to hire and train enough officers.

"Keep in mind if we had the money we still have to go out and recruit them and find them and that's becoming very difficult to do in a good economy right now," Tim Oetimeier of HPD said.

The report says a minimum of 365 new officers are needed for safety reasons – to give officers backup when they respond to the most dangerous calls.

But the president of the Houston Police Officer's Union says the department needs closer to 1,500 new officers.

"The money has to come from somewhere," he said. "I believe the citizens would be in favor of a crime control fee if they knew it was going to hire more police officers."

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