After-school programs prevent crime, says Houston Councilman and former Police Chief C. O. Bradford, so some of them should be paid for by the police. “This sounds strange to hear a gun-packing, badge-toting, 24-year cop talking about this,” Bradford tells the Houston Chronicle. He proposes hiring 20 fewer police officers in the coming year and using the savings to put nearly 2,000 more children into homework clubs, sports, scholarship coaching, and museum tours.
The Houston Police Department plans three 70-member cadet academies in the coming year to replace those who retire or resign from the 5,300-member force. Bradford said having 10 fewer cadets in two of the classes could save the city $1.6 million, enough to put an entire large middle school’s worth of children into activities each weekday afternoon. “Nobody’s going to miss an additional 10 officers spread over 640-plus square miles,” he said. The area’s after-school advocates have turned to Bradford as the front man for their sociological strategy over an exclusively lock-’em-up approach to public safety. When he became mayor, former police chief Lee Brown championed the After-School Achievement Program as a tool to fight juvenile crime. Brown did not use police department money to pay for it, though.