Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt says that projected $5.4 million increase in the city’s property tax revenue will help his financially strapped department fund a new cadet class, buy 3,600 Tasers, and retain 50 civilian jailers, the Houston Chronicle says. Hurtt said the money also will allow 29 more officers to work closer to the front lines rather than serve as jailers. The 5,400-member Houston Police Department has had 220 officers retire this year, and it expects 520 more retirements by the end of the year. Police officers will be moved to the city jail this month to replace 240 civilian jailers laid off by Hurtt because of the city’s budget problems.
Several City Council members said they were concerned about Hurtt’s proposal to spend so much money on Tasers in light of this year’s budget crunch. They said it might be better to spend the money on more patrol officers. Citing the Kingwood district she represents, Councilwoman Addie Wiseman said the area “is facing a 10 percent reduction in police force (because of budget problems). I want to feel more confident we will use the money wisely. People are asking for full restoration of police officers on patrol.”