HOUSTON -- In an interview with 11 News, former Houston Police Chief C. O. Bradford said the Houston Police Department had gotten away from many of the major principles of community-oriented policing.
"Across our city we've moved away from open, public, community policing and what community policing actually means," said Bradford, who was recently elected to the Houston City Council. " We need to get back to citizens, [businesses] and officers actually interacting with the citizens and working together."
Bradford pointed to concerns raised by residents of the city's Forum Park neighborhood at Wednesday's City Council meeting. Residents told council members there was no shortage of drugs, gunfire and prostitution in the neighborhood bordered by Beltway 8, Bissonnet Street and the Southwest Freeway.
Houston police officers have called it a war zone -- an area where homes have been torched by arsonists -- and residents killed on its streets.
"It is a scary place to live," said a resident who asked 11News to conceal his identity for fear of publicly speaking about the crime concerns.
"[We call to report] prostitution and the officers say, "no, we're not coming out, it's not that big a thing," and we're not going to come out and do anything. And people are telling them which units they're in," the resident said.
"For a citizen to be told, as this citizen is alleging, that it's just this type of crime, so we're not going to come out, and we're not going to give attention to it, that is completely unacceptable," said Bradford.
Bradford said the Houston Police Department needed a new, comprehensive, public safety strategy.
"We have to outline what's expected in the way of our police leadership, what is expected in the way of police supervision in a particular area, what is expected from the citizens," he said.
"I would like to physically see HPD out there on the streets in that area -- driving around -- driving through the area," a Forum Park resident said. "I think it can still be saved."
Residents at Wednesday's City Council meeting were told burglaries, robberies and rapes were up in the Forum Park area.
Houston hasn't had a police chief since Harold Hurtt stepped down in December. Bradford said he planned to help Mayor Annise Parker find a police chief who understood the diversity and challenges of a city as large as Houston.