The head of a Houston police union thinks it’s the economy. A community activist blames permissive prosecutors. Prosecutors point to expanded gun rights. Whatever the reasons, says the Houston Chronicle, shootings of citizens by Harris County law officers already this year have overtaken the number of shootings last year, as well as the year before. As of Sept. 24, 44 police shootings have occurred, up from 35 in all of 2008, and 32 in 2007.
“We were able to keep some controls on it with overtime, and now they’ve (City Council) cut it out,” said Gary Blankinship, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, referring to recently restricted overtime pay. “But now unemployment is up, they’re not working, they have idle time, they run out of money, they start stealing and doing drugs.” The Houston Police Department has the highest number of shootings, with 24 this year, up from 21 in all of 2008, and 19 in 2007. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has been involved in six shootings so far this year, down one from the seven logged in 2008.