Just in time for budget talks, a new report shows HPD is critically understaffed, leaving tens of thousands of cases not being investigated.
The report presented Monday to City Council showed more than 20,000 burglary, assault and other cases were not looked into last year because of a lack of personnel.
“It should be closer to 1,500 officers, but 800 is a good starting point to minimally staff our police department to provide better safety for our citizens and our officers,” says former police chief turned Councilman C.O. “Brad” Bradford.
Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union, says when you account for officers leaving due to attrition, coupled with the challenge of recruiting new cadets, even more officers are needed.
“If you start investigating those 15,000 burglaries, those 3,000 assault cases and 3,000 hit and runs, you're looking at more than 1,500,” Hunt told reporters.
“Chicago has about a half million people more than we do, and they've got over 6,000 officers more than we do,” he said.
But the city would need $80 to 150 million to hire the needed officers.
“I don't know if it's a crime control fee, I don't know if it's increasing taxes or what, but remember under Mayor Bill White you decreased taxes five years in a row, but continued to increase the budget,” said Hunt.
Bradford first suggests scrubbing the budget for cuts elsewhere.
“Look at each activity in each department and determine if the activity contributes to the direct delivery of core services or not. If it does, fine. If it doesn't, then we should discontinue those activities,” Bradford tells KTRH News.
Between 2004 and 2011, Houston recorded the most burglaries of any of the nation's top 25 cities.