Houston's Safety Nightmare: Criminals On A RAMPAGE As Police Struggle To Keep Up, Is Your City Next?

By Alan Hume | Monday, 22 April 2024 10:15 PM
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The Houston Police Officers' Union is raising concerns over the city's safety as criminal suspects roam freely on bond amidst a severe shortage of police officers.

Ray Hunt, the union's executive director, expressed his apprehension to Fox News Digital, stating, "I have never in my lifetime – and I'm a lifelong Houstonian – seen this many suspected murderers and capital murderers who are walking the streets of Houston out on multiple bonds."

Hunt further emphasized the gravity of the situation, saying, "I would not let my wife or my kids walk down the streets of Houston at midnight under any circumstances. It is not safe in major cities in 2024, and it's not safe here."

The Houston Police Department is grappling with the challenge of recruiting and retaining officers, a problem that is not unique to Houston but is affecting police departments nationwide. Union President Douglas Griffith described the situation as a "perfect storm," attributing it to the aftermath of the George Floyd incident and the subsequent scrutiny of police actions.

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"Who in the heck wants to be a police officer in 2024?" Hunt questioned, highlighting the intense scrutiny officers face, with their every action being second-guessed through body-worn camera footage. He added, "I could not encourage any of my family to come be a police officer in 2024 with the situation that's going on."

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Griffith revealed that the Houston City Council was informed about the department's shortages a decade ago, following a 2014 report by Sam Houston State University that indicated a shortage of 1,500 officers in the city. "In 2014, it said if Houston was staffed like Chicago, we would have 9,602 sworn officers. At that time we had about 5,600 – 4,000 short. Now we have just over 5,000. We've already lost officers since then," Hunt explained.

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The officer shortage has resulted in an inability to investigate every case, according to Griffith. Hunt added that a survey of investigative division commanders in 2013 revealed excessively high numbers of cases with leads that were not investigated due to lack of personnel. He stated, "For burglary and theft, nearly 15,000 cases were suspended – 3,000 assault cases in the homicide division, 3,000 hit-and-run cases for that year. They knew that. Everyone knew that we were shorthanded, and now everyone wants to say, 'Wow, these officers are lazy. They're not doing your job.' Completely untrue."

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Griffith also criticized the court system for failing to do its job, pointing out the issue of suspects being granted multiple bonds. He stated, "And we get people on six, seven, eight, nine bonds at one time. And that's a problem that we have to fix in the courts. And with the DA's office, you try to make sure that these public offenders can't be continued to roam the streets and victimize our citizens."

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Hunt noted that suspects in Harris County, where Houston is located, may not face court for five to six years. However, he pointed out that criminals in Montgomery County, just north of Houston, are held accountable. "Crooks in this area know the boundary lines of Harris County and Montgomery County. They don't want to commit crimes in Montgomery County because they know they're going to be held responsible."

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The situation in Houston mirrors that of Austin, Texas, where police reported staffing shortages and longer 911-call response times following the city council's vote to defund the department in 2020. Austin Police Association President Michael Bullock warned that a steady decline in public safety had put the city on the "brink of disaster." In February, a section of the city was notably left without a single police officer for a few hours on a Saturday.

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