As his officers use short-term strategies to battle Houston’s recent surge in homicides, Police Chief Harold Hurtt is calling for the city to make a long-term financial commitment to public safety and for residents to step in, the Houston Chronicle reports. His department needs more officers, updated technology, and better means of collecting crime statistics, Hurtt said. Police also need for Houstonians, especially those in apartments, to take a stand against crime in their areas, he told the Chronicle editorial board.
The department already has officers working overtime and is targeting patrol programs in certain areas to reduce violent crime, which increased citywide during the past few months. But while violent crime was up 2.3 percent through November 2005, compared with the same period in 2004, overall crime decreased by 2.2 percent, Hurtt said. With 4,800 officers in uniform, the department has about 2.3 officers for every 1,000 residents; the national average is 2.8 per 1,000. Houston’s ratio drops to 1.9 officers per 1,000 residents if one includes the 150,000 people whom city and federal officials estimate have relocated here after Hurricane Katrina.