Judge Hidalgo shares details on $1.4B proposed budget for programs to fight violent crime

Harris County Commissioners are meeting on Tuesday to discuss budget proposals, and as southeast Texas sees an increase in violent crimes, there's an added focus on addressing that growing problem.

Harris County Commissioners Court sets the budget for county government, including 76 operating departments and agencies.

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On Monday, Judge Lina Hidalgo and Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia discussed the $1.4 billion proposed budget for justice and safety programs.

Judge Hidalgo highlighted the following plans for the funding, in no particular order:

  • 400 vehicles for the Sheriff's office
  • $250,000 for Constables pay increases
  • Overtime for the DA's office
  • 60 additional detention officers at the jail
  • Additional Sheriff's patrol deputies
  • 10 additional court bailiffs for courts
  • Nearly $1 million for Constable patrol contracts
  • 35 more positions in the Criminal Investigations Bureau of the Sheriff's Office

According to the county, roughly 70% of the new investments are for justice and safety initiatives to "support court operations, jail health and safety, and an ‘all of the above’ approach to violence prevention, including both law enforcement and other strategies."

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Commissioner Garcia wanted to underscore the need to attract and retain talent through salaries.

"We are announcing that, with this budget, we are setting a new standard in Harris County with an 87,000 year's starting salary for entry-level district attorneys," Garcia said. "And raising the salaries for those in the front lines and in the trenches of fighting crime."

The commissioner drew comparison to neighboring Montgomery County where starting pay is around $78,000.

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"That's just under $10,000 more than what any other county in Texas is paying the same level of staff," he said.

Harris County is the largest county in Texas and third largest in the United States.