The day after Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt said he wants to require apartment complexes in high-crime areas to hire security officers, a man was shot to death at a one complex. It was the 286th homicide in Houston this year. Half the slayings in the past 90 days have been in apartments or apartment parking lots. Houston Police Officers’ Union President Hans Marticiuc criticized Hurtt’s plan as overlooking a more urgent issue he said is affecting the city’s response to all crimes: an understaffed police force.
Marticiuc pointed to a new union report as evidence that the department has slipped in its ability to respond efficiently to callsy. The report shows that it took longer than 90 minutes to dispatch officers in about 500 calls for service regarding property crimes and assaults. In a few instances, callers waited for more than 10 hours before the Houston Emergency Center dispatched officers. Marticiuc said that to maximize police resources, citizens could use a Web-based system to report some property crimess. He also said the department should pay officers overtime to concentrate on areas where dispatch times are particularly slow. Houston police spokesman Lt. Robert Manzo said the city’s average response times for high-priority calls are still at acceptable levels. The average response time during October was five minutes for a Priority 1 and 10 minutes for a Priority 2 call.