houston public radio
public radio news & fine arts twenty four hours a day from houston, tx
Harris County's New Gang Strategy
November 10, 2010
by: Bill Stamps
Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos says the gang problem at a North Houston housing complex is so bad that the county is implementing a new strategy to defeat them.
The new tactic involves a court injunction that allows officers to arrest the gangmembers for simply being on the premises. Bill Stamps has details.
The district attorney and law enforcement say the gang and crime problem at the Haverstock Hills low income housing complex is the worst of any place in Harris County. Last year alone there were more than three thousand calls to police. Josh Allen is the manager of the complex.
"Since I’ve been involved with this project since 2005, we’ve spent a million dollars just on security yet we still have problems."
District Attorney Pat Lykos says enough is enough. This morning her office filed the first ever civil injunction action against gang activity in Harris County. The defendants are 33 known members of the blood and crips gangs who either hang out at the Haverstock Hill or frequent the complex to sell drugs and commit crimes.
"We are going to chase them. There will be no place that we will not hunt them down."
Lykos says the injunction bans the gang members from being on the premises of Haverstock. The injunction also bans them from wearing gang colors, flashing hand signs or even using cell phones in the area.
"What you do with gangs or with any organized criminal activity is you disrupt, you disrupt, you disrupt, you dismantle and you deprive them of their ill gotten gains and that’s what we intend to do."
If you’re wondering how the county can legally ban the suspects from using something like a cell phone, attorney Kim Ogg has the answer.
"The reason is much like a domestic protection order. In this case the gangs have proven themselves a nuisance. Each member has proved himself a nuisance to this particular zone and it allows judges under the current law — which has been found constitutional — to ban things that they think the evidence shows helps criminals commit crimes."
Lt Jeff Stauber with the sheriff’s department says the injunction will certainly make their jobs easier because now they don’t have to catch the gang members in the act of a crime.
"The criminals are really just not going to have a chance on Haverstock between the off duty officers that work out there, the district that is assigned to that area and the community members and their involvement. We are going to pursue the criminals and we’re going to put them in jail."
If things go according to plan, Havorstock Hills, the most crime ridden housing complex in Harris County, could soon be one of the safest.