HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — What's being done to fight violent crime in the Houston area?
Well, to start, Harris County leaders are hoping a new multi-agency task force will begin chipping away at thousands of outstanding warrants for violent offenders.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office will lead the Viper Task Force with assistance from county constables.
Leaders said the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a rise in crime and created a backlog of warrants, leaving violent criminals out on the streets.
"In Harris County pre-COVID, we had about 783 outstanding warrants per 100,000 people. Now, post-COVID, (there are) 925. So, there's a lot of people that we can make sure we bring to justice ... that there is due process and keep our communities safe," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said.
The task force will prioritize the most serious cases, including more than 700 murder warrants and 48,000 outstanding warrants for aggravated offenses.
The county will use $2.6 million from the American Rescue Plan to pay for the initiative.