Houston police increasing presence around mosques

The chief of the Houston Police Department announced on Friday that there will be a greater presence of officers around Houston-area mosques following the mass shooting in New Zealand.

The police chief and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner met with Muslim leaders at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston following the attack on two New Zealand mosques that killed 49 people and injured dozens of others.

Chief Art Acevedo said there have not been any anti-Muslim threats so far in the Houston area in the aftermath of the New Zealand mosque shooting, but there is a fear right now of the potential for copycats.

"This is the time that reminds us we have to be vigilant," said Chief Acevedo. "We have to make sure we have good security protocols in place."

The city and religious leaders spoke inside the ISGH center in the Upper Kirby district just before afternoon prayer as police conducted patrols outside.

"It’s a very sad day that we have gathered together here to talk about this heinous act, act of terrorism, against humanity," said Sohail Syed, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. “We are here to denounce the terrorism, the hatred, on every level, on every front."

Around 250,000 Muslims call the Houston area their home.

"In order to confront that hatred that seeks to divide the diversity that exists, even within our city, it is important that when it does show up, we have to stand together as a unit," said Mayor Turner.

Harris County Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen was also at the center, pledging increased security.

"Everybody in local law enforcement is obviously going to play a role in ensuring that everybody in our faith-based community — churches, mosques, synagogues — are gonna be safe, but with particular attention on our mosques," said Rosen.

Jewish community leaders joined the meeting in a show of solidarity.

"As the Muslim community absorbs this tragedy and our community absorbs this tragedy, we make our solidarity clear," said Randy Czarlinaky with the American Jewish Committee.

The Islamic Society of Greater Houston is planning to conduct a vigil on Saturday to share the grief and sorrow of their fellow Muslims.