Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, who took office in January, spent Thursday morning at a public safety forum at the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce and described some of the areas she wants to target for enforcement and prosecution.
“This is a time when government is limited in our resources,” Ogg said. “We’re not able to write a blank check on the taxpayer dollar. We have to prioritize resources if we’re going to make you safe.”
Here are some of the highlights of Ogg’s talk:
1. The top priorities for the district attorney’s office include murder, rape, robbery and other crimes against people and property.
“Crimes against people and property are our top priority because we can’t do everything well and we need to do the dangerous things best and remove the people who pose the greatest threat,” Ogg said.
2. The marijuana diversion program is projected to save the county $27 million that would normally be spent on prosecuting nonviolent possession charges.
The program, which Ogg initiated in the county March 1, aims to provide an alternative to criminal charges for individuals caught with less than 4 ounces of marijuana.
3. Robberies and burglaries are a growing crime statistic in Harris County.
“That is what is kicking our tail in terms of crime stats,” Ogg said. “Women are being targeted, people [are being]followed, the international community is [being]terrorized by robbers who believe they are cash-laden. That’s what we need to spend time putting the pieces together on.”
4. Community service could increasingly be used for alternative sentencing in some instances.
“We used them to paint out graffiti because they were paying their debt to you [and]we’re going to do it again,” she said.
Waterways, bayous and greenspaces could be among the targeted areas for community service cleanup in the future.
5. The county will need to employ more aggressive strategies to fight human trafficking.
“Human trafficking continues to be just punishing the buyers and sellers of prostitution,” Ogg said. “We’ve got to get to the people really making money in this industry.”
Human trafficking encompasses both sex workers and other forms of forced labor, she said. Because of its location, Harris County is one of the country’s major staging area for sex trafficking, Ogg said.