Public Safety

There are of course, budget constraints on what we can do going forward, but there are ideas to consider:

We must work to regain public confidence in the city crime lab, either through a reallocation of resources or the participation in a regional lab. That thousands of DNA evidence kits remain untested, gathering dust in storage while we study the problem is not acceptable.

Regarding police staffing, we should re-evaluate and reallocate manpower to increase the staff of investigative bureaus for property crimes like burglary and theft. We barely have an 9% clearance rate on burglaries with fewer Officers on duty than a dozen years ago, while the city population has grown by 50%.

We need to  evaluate the need for officers to arrest, transport, and book offenders into our crowded city jail, when the Texas Legislature in 2007 authorized local governments to write citations for class C misdemeanors in lieu of arrest for certain petty crimes. This single action could dramatically reduce the patrol workload, freeing officers to address more important matters.

And without question the structural problem with the long-term compensation plan for public safety employees is the elephant in the room. We made a bargain we should keep, but we should also work with our public safety staff so they can plan for their future, while ensuring that the city remains on sound economic footing for all citizens.