HOUSTON — Crime Stoppers of Houston on Tuesday unveiled the Safe Community Institute, which will house the organization's Safe Community program, the "Balanced Voice" podcast, and its new research center.
The institute will be led by Director Sydney Zuiker, who said the new research center will be the first of its kind.
"It has a clearly defined purpose," Zuiker said. "To accurately report on crime trends and public safety data so the public has a transparent view of the criminal justice system in Harris County."
Zuiker went on to highlight the research center's four main objectives.
"First, we will track violent trends beginning in 2015 to see how crime has changed since voted upon bond reform as well as informal changes to bond procedures in Harris County," Zuiker said.
"Second, we will track crimes by city district and county precinct to identify crime hotspots. As we examine specific areas of crimes and crime trends we will also outline area councilmembers' and commissioners' approaches to public safety."
"Third, we will track court proceedings by providing the public with a list of each criminal court judge and over which court they preside, listing magistrates when possible, and identifying how many cases each court holds each year, taking into consideration how COVID-19 has impacted court proceedings for each specific court."
"Fourth, and finally, we will research and report on specialized issues identified by these people and by you, the community members."
Crime Stoppers of Houston provided the following examples of some specialized issues the research center will look into:
- How many defendants charged with capital murder or aggravated robbery were released on PR bond or low bond.
- How many defendants re-offended after being charged with capital murder or aggravated robbery and were released on PR bond or low bond.
Zuiker said the research center will aim to be an unbiased and accurate source of information that will be accessible to every community member.
“Today is a historic occasion for Crime Stoppers as we establish the Safe Community Institute," Zuiker said.
Crime Stoppers of Houston CEO Rania Mankarios said they hope to see the institute in full effect by the end of March.
Here is the full announcement:
Also on Tuesday, Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman gave a $10,000 gift to Crime Stoppers of Houston on behalf of all constable offices.
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According to Crime Stoppers, 2021 saw a 70% increase in murders in Harris County compared to 2019.
“We’ve seen an increase in violence across the country, of course, COVID-19 exacerbated a lot of this,” Mankarios said in a news release. “We’ve seen people move to violence much quicker than in times past, we know that there’s an uptick in gang activity and drug activity and domestic violence.”