Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt set an ambitious goal to reduce violent crime by at least 10 percent during the next three years under a new staffing strategy he outlined yesterday with Mayor Bill White, reports the Houston Chronicle. White committed to spend an additional $24 million on overtime pay through 2010. The money would bolster an understaffed force as police commanders try to increase their ranks. White promised an aggressive hiring commitment that could add 564 officers to the 4,880-member force by 2010.
The number of homicides, aggravated assaults, rapes, and robberies dropped 5 percent from January to August, compared with the same period last year. The planned overtime during the three years would be the equivalent of 500,000 police hours. The crime rate, particularly for violent offenses, has been a source of concern since late 2005, when an influx of hurricane evacuees increased the city’s population by more than 100,000, and incidents spiked in certain neighborhoods. The $24 million would come from local tax revenues and would supplement federal grants until the number of officers reaches 5,400 by 2010.