HOUSTON – Today, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a COVID-19 Related Crime Reduction Program to increase overtime for the Houston Police Department through the end of December 2020. The City will use $4.1 million of CARES Act funding for the overtime program.
Beginning today, through the end of the year, there will be an additional 110 officers deployed each day to saturate six hot spot areas that are driving the violent crime numbers.
Those areas are:
- South Gessner
- North Belt
- South Central
Throughout those areas, HPD officers will be on proactive patrols to reduce crime and address the spike in homicides, shootings and other crimes the city has experienced during the pandemic.
Overall, violent crime is up 11% in Houston.
“Major cities across the nation are experiencing an increase in homicides, shootings and other crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “There is no denying the virus has contributed to anxiety and stress as people cope with job losses, feelings of isolation, illness or death of loved ones, children learning at home virtually and fear of the unknown.”
An Oct. 6 news article in the New York Times, reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has frayed all kinds of institutions and infrastructure that hold communities together, that watch over streets, that mediate conflicts, that simply give young people something to do. Programs devised to reduce gun violence and that proved effective have been upended by the pandemic.
“We’ll be relying on data to add more officers, more eyes, more visibility, and most importantly, more safety for the people of Houston,” said Chief Art Acevedo, Houston Police Department. “We are going to be watching on a daily basis and we will have tactical intelligence and move our resources as needed because we know displacement can occur.”
The City of Houston has worked in these unprecedented times to help people holistically. For instance, the Houston Health Department launched a mental health hotline, the Mayor’s Office of Anti-Trafficking was expanded to include domestic violence, to address the increase in domestic violence calls. The program includes a partnership with MAKR Collective, an economic empowerment program for survivors with wrap around financial services. Through skills training we help survivors achieve financial independence.
The City has also provided two rental assistance packages worth more than $35 million for Houstonians having trouble paying their rent as a result of hardships created by the pandemic. In August, the Houston City Council passed the City’s Small Business Economic Relief Program (SBERP), which will be funded with $15 million of the City’s allocated CARES Act 2020 funds.