HOUSTON — Hundreds of residents in the Spring Branch area met with local leaders to ask for more help fighting crime. Now, they're getting some high-tech help.
In December 2021, a gunman robbed and shot two teenage brothers at Pitner Pocket Park. One was killed.
Zoe was just down the street when the shots rang out.
“I heard the gunshots. Next thing ... I’m on the ground. Everyone is on the ground,” she said. “I still have ringing in my ears.”
Two months before that, the 16-year-old saw a drive-by shooting on Pitner road. It littered the street with shell casings.
Crime continues to be an issue in the north end of Spring Branch. So, in June, Zoe - along with 300 other residents - met with local leaders who had been working on the problem.
The Houston Police Department had already stepped up patrols and other crime-fighting programs in the Northwest District.
Crime in the area is down dramatically in the first six months of 2022, compared to 2021. Robbery is down 46%, aggravated assault is down 18% and auto theft is down 27%.
But what more can be done? Especially for the north end of Spring Branch which has long had crime problems.
Josh Hawes is with the Spring Branch Management District and said high-tech help is on the way.
“Mobile security cameras, box systems with four mounted cameras. It has 24-hour surveillance,” he said. “We are funding 10 FLOCK cameras. Those are the license plate reader cameras, in conjunction with the councilwoman’s office.”
He’s referring to Amy Peck, who represents Houston City Council District A.
“We allocated a little over $100,000 on license plate readers,” Peck said.
That money comes from Council District Service Funds. Money has also gone to overtime funding for HPD.
The biggest trick, according to local leaders, is getting residents, especially non-English speakers, to talk to the police.
“After the meeting, people did come up to Liz, my chief of staff (who also speaks Spanish) and have conversations with her about things going on in the area. She was able to compile the information and pass it along to HPD,” Peck said.
Peck's office now helps as a go-between, passing along anonymous information from residents to the police. It’s all part of the effort to make things safer in Spring Branch.