HOUSTON - As first reported by FOX 26, the automatic release of nearly 300 criminal suspects following a computer system malfunction has triggered a cascade of protests from top elected leaders.
"It's just a real mess and what really concerns me is, where is the alarm?" asked State Senator John Whitmire.
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The long-time chairman of the upper chamber's criminal justice committee questioned why no functional backup was in place for a system critical to public safety.
With hundreds of suspects released back on the street, Whitmire accused the responsible County leaders of placing both the lives of citizens and law officers in jeopardy.
"What does it do to the morale of the deputy sheriffs and the police officers in our City and counties?" said Whitmire. "They are going to arrest the same people again. Those suspects are going to know they are coming, so they are going to take drastic measures and it's going to endanger the public. We need everyone involved at every level of local government starting at the courthouse to be alarmed."
Longtime Police Union leader Ray Hunt is furious at the magistrate who authorized the mass release and the resulting impact it will have on the morale of his members and the safety of the citizens they serve.
"Houston is very dangerous with 280 people out there who know we are looking for them, who know they got out on a technicality, who are out here doing their 'job' and we know what their 'job' is," he said. "This is 280 at one time. You better lock your doors, you better load your guns and you better protect your cars."
"You can bet there is somebody in there who in two or three weeks from now you are going to be saying this person who was released in that 280 is going to be responsible for killing this person," Hunt continued. "That's what's going to happen and we all know it."
Senator Whitmire says crime and eroding public safety have eclipsed every other challenge facing Harris County and solving the increasingly chronic problem should become the top priority of all elected leaders.