Mayor Turner, Houston Police seek $8.5 million toward citywide video surveillance

Houston is seeking private contributions towards a video surveillance system that will also allow residents with Ring cameras to opt into sharing footage with police. (Courtesy Pexel)
Houston is seeking private contributions towards a video surveillance system that will also allow residents with Ring cameras to opt into sharing footage with police. (Courtesy Pexel)

Houston is seeking private contributions towards a video surveillance system that will also allow residents with Ring cameras to opt into sharing footage with police. (Courtesy Pexel)

Apprehending violent criminals in Houston requires more “eyes on the street,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a joint press conference with the Houston Police Department.

That may not come as much from added boots-on-the-ground police presence as it will come from a virtual network of surveillance technology, Turner said.

"We need to have more real eyes on the streets,” Turner said. “But it’s going to require supplemental technology to what we have already.”

To do so, Turner announced the city is seeking $8.5 million in private investment towards a citywide camera system and technology that will allow the city to work with Ring, a home surveillance camera service owned by Amazon. Under an agreement with Ring, owners of the cameras, typically placed on street-facing doorbells, will be able to opt into sharing footage with Houston Police Department, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

As of 2017, Houston Police was signifcantly understaffed when compared to other similar-sized cities, an indepedent performance audit of the city found. However, between 2008 and 2018, the city's violent crime rate fell by 4.8% according to FBI data. The number of violent crimes reported has fluctuated in recent months, Acevedo said when describing the need for the video network.


Other area cities have recently made similar investments. West University Place is implementing a $4.5 million “Virtual Gate” system of cameras and license plate readers, and in January, Katy said it would put in place 22 license plate readers.

This is not the first time that Turner has called on the philanthropic and business communities to supplement the city’s budgetary needs. Last year, he announced the 50 for 50 parks initiative aiming to form partnerships between businesses and local parks. In January, he called for $50 million in donations toward homelessness initiatives

Also among Turner’s commitments were a $1.5 million in added overtime pay to increase police presence city wide with a focus on “hot spots,” as well as an ongoing agreement to test out a gun violence monitoring system known as ShotSpotter. Turner deployed the same amount of overtime pay to police in August.

ShotSpotter records sounds of gunfire, pinpoints its location and reports information straight to police. It is currently being tested in a five-mile radius pilot zone in an unspecified area of south Houston.

Acevedo said when combined with community involvement, these initiatives will help curb violent crime rates which he said are fluctuating in the city.
SHARE THIS STORY

Emma Whalen



MOST RECENT

Harris County's "Stay Home-Work Safe" order has been extended through April 30. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County stay-at-home order extended until April 30; some nonviolent inmates to be relased from county jail

The order requires Harris County residents to stay home and avoid nonessential travel.

Patrick Jankowski projects more than 150,000 regional job losses due to the coronavirus. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Houston economist predicts more than 150,000 job losses this year due to coronavirus

While sectors that are considered nonessential and cannot deliver their goods and services remotely are most at risk, the economist said all jobs are on the line if the shutdown continues after May.

Gov. Greg Abbott updated Texans and issued an executive order regarding the state's response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis during a March 31 afternoon press conference. (Screenshot via livestream)
'Now is the time to redouble our efforts': Abbott issues executive order for state on COVID-19 extending school closures, clarifying essential services

Gov. Greg Abbott updated Texans and issued an executive order regarding the state's response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis during a March 31 afternoon press conference.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo provided updates on the county's "Stay Home-Work Safe" order at a March 30 press conference. (Screenshot via Harris County)
Hidalgo: Extension of stay-at-home order not a matter of 'if,' but 'how long'

The order was set to expire April 3 but will be extended as cases of COVID-19 spike in the county.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the proposed hotel leases will help quarantine first responders as well as homeless people may become infected. (Screenshot via HTV)
Houston City Council to consider leasing 186 hotel rooms for quarantine sites

The hotel rooms will be prioritized for those who cannot self-quaratine at home.

Total cases of COVID-19 in the Greater Houston area continue to rise. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Coronavirus case updates: Third city of Houston death reported; Fort Bend County launches testing site

Total cases of COVID-19 in the Greater Houston area continue to rise.

With rising case numbers citywide, Houston's first responders risk exposure to coronavirus while on duty. (Courtesy Pexels)
Over 300 of Houston’s first responders under quarantine for coronavirus

In addition to those, 11 police officers and 7 firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19.

Fifty-one percent of energy firms surveyed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in mid-March said they expect the number of employees at their companies to decrease in 2020. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Federal Reserve business economist discusses the energy industry's 2020 outlook

The industry is contending with effects of the coronavirus outbreak and uncertainty in the oil market following a steep price drop in March.

Alvin and Friendswood ISD move to support underserved students as classes start online. (Courtesy Fotolia)
How Houston-area school districts are responding to coronavirus

Here are some updates from the last week on how school districts across the Greater Houston area are adapting during the coronavirus outbreak.

Texas Central plans to start construction of the Texas high-speed rail connecting Houston and Dallas by the end of 2020. (Courtesy Texas Central)
Coronavirus causes layoffs for Texas Central’s high-speed rail project

Texas Central officials announced multiple employees would be laid off March 27 in the wake of a worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

METRO
METRO reduces Park & Ride service, closes HOV lanes; two employees test positive for COVID-19

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County suspended all Park & Ride routes except those serving the Texas Medical Center, effective March 30.

Houston City Council approved an extension of the local disaster declaration in response to the coronavirus outbreak March 17. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
If a coronavirus recession mirrors 2008 conditions, Houston could lose $100 million in tax revenue

The plummet in economic activity caused by the coronavirus pandemic puts Houston in uncharted waters.