HOUSTON -- More than 20,000 crimes were never investigated in 2013 because Houston Police did not have the manpower to do so, according to an HPD-commissioned staffing report released Monday.
The $200,000 study was paid with drug seizure funds and was conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum in conjunction with Sam Houston University.
After recent revelations about HPD ignoring some homicide cases, the report’s details are dismaying.
For example, it states that nearly 15,000 burglary and theft cases in 2013 were not investigated because of a lack of personnel, as well as nearly 3,000 assault cases and 3,00 hit-and-run accidents.
“It confirms what we've been saying for years, what our two prior police chiefs have said and what I current police chief has said, that we don't have enough officers out there to do the job that we need to do as police officers to keep our city safe,” said Houston Police Officers’ Union President Ray Hunt.
HPD Executive Assistant Chief Timothy Oettmeier presented the report at a meeting of the City’s public safety and homeland security meeting.
"Obviously we're disappointed with that but let me assure folks that those crimes that are not addresses are the most minor offenses for that particular given category,” Oettmeier said.
Oettmeier said examples of cases not investigated might include theft from a garage or a car “smash-and grab” in which a citizen’s purse was stolen.
The manpower report also compares HPD to other big city departments, such as the Chicago Police Deparment. It has a whopping six thousand more officers than Houston, but only has a half million more people.
The authors of the study recommend Houston add as many as 1500 officers to its ranks.
Union president Ray Hunt said current staffing levels present a risk to officers who must respond to scenes without a partner.
“I think it needs to be an alarm that's sounded to the public to let them know, you need to contact your councilman, you need to contact the Mayor, and say 'we've got to do something,” Hunt said.