HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The Houston Police Department has announced that it will spend $2 million in overtime to have more officers patrol crime hot spots throughout the city. The announcement follows a spike in homicides since 2014. With the 33rd annual National Night Out scheduled to take place this week, FOX 26 News is asking residents and business owners in high-crime areas just how they feel about the proposed changes.
George Rodriguez and his wife, Alida, have lived in the north side of Houston for more than 50 years, and their independent grocery store on North Main Street is no stranger to crime. Alida said she was working behind the counter on a quiet weekday, when all of a sudden her world was turned upside down.
“Somebody came running in without a shirt and then just threw me on the floor and he was on top of me for ten minutes,” said Alida. “And when I think about it I always have that fear.”
Alida said she has the fear that she could be a victim to anyone who walks through the front door of her store now. And that’s the feeling many business owners in high-crime areas of Houston also feel.
“Vagrants, they go on the street, they have no place to stay, they go underneath the bridge,” said George. “And ex-convicts, they’re released from the penitentiary [and] the Salvation Army is a drop off.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner, along with acting Houston police chief Martha Montalvo, said they have been looking at ways to improve the safety of areas like the Northside for more a year now. That is why they have agreed to spend $2 million in overtime to have more officers patrol that area and others across the city.
“Chief Montalvo and I have been looking at this since last March, and have been taking several steps to turn this around,” said Mayor Turner. “Including taking an extra $2 million in overtime, additional cadet classes, and the shifting of one-hundred-and-seventy-five police officers from their desk to the streets.”
Rodriguez said they are happy with this news, but are also fighting for more changes that will keep them and their family safe. Two of those changes include fighting for a curfew for the homeless, and the relocation of the Salvation Army on the Northside.