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By: Darwin Campbell
Author of column series “The Black Whisperer”

Houston may be a welcoming city, but one thing the city has opened its doors to in the process is a rash of violent crimes being committed against law-abiding citizens.

On June 14, 10-month-old Messiah Marshall was shot and killed in his father’s arms in an apartment complex off of North Braeswood Boulevard in what police described as a gang-related incident.

I am also reminded of how a simple shopping trip to Walgreen’s was interrupted by men with guns. Just recently, the three men held customers and employees at the pharmacy at gunpoint during that robbery, according to investigators. According to Harris County Precinct 4 deputy constables, the men stole the wallets, cellphones and jewelry of customers and employees, before grabbing cash from the register and fleeing the scene. Those robbers with guns terrorized the innocent and openly disrespected and violated the rights of citizens with their actions.

The days when people left doors unlocked are gone, but it is now apparent that you can’t even go to the store, pharmacy or eat out without fear or feeling that you can rest assured be safe and protected against hoodlums taking things that do not rightfully belong to them.

With news holes being filled daily with bold and unbelievable stories of criminals taking advantage of a peace loving orderly public, it is past time for an active collaborative initiative to proactively fight violent crime across the Greater Houston area.

Whether Black, White, Hispanic, African or Asian, no one in Houston deserves to be roughed up, robbed, treated badly or hurt over the kinds of crimes being committed by these barbarous fools.

The Houston Law Enforcement Violent Crime Initiative promises to bring together personnel from 10 area law enforcement agencies to not only augment investigative and prosecutorial efforts, but also to enhance collaborative training and community outreach efforts.

The overall goal of this new “dream team” collaborative is to reduce the amount of violent crime in the city and improve the quality of life for the citizens of Houston.

According to the announcement, authorities are committed to working together in the interests of justice. It includes details about the initiative designed to enhance those partnerships and collaborate on the best avenues for targeting and ultimately prosecuting the most violent offenders in the community. Such specifics include sharing information about intelligence integration, strategic support, working groups and resources, among others.

The goal is to not only “connect the dots” between multiple pieces of information relating to violent crime but also prepare strong cases for state and federal prosecution of these offenders.

The partnership provides a framework for enhancing federal support of state, local and tribal law enforcement officials and prosecutors as they aggressively investigate and pursue violent criminals, specifically those involved in gun crime, drug trafficking and gang violence.

Over the past year, Mayor Sylvester Turner has done his part enlisting local hip hop artists, ministers, Houston Texans players and other community leaders also stepped up to help lower the temperature in Houston neighborhoods where tensions were running high. Also, the City Council members dedicated portions of their district budgets toward police overtime and the City’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones provided additional funding for public safety needs.
There is a still a lot of work to do on decreasing all violent crimes, but getting a handle on murders is a good start,” according to Turner’s statement on crime.  “I commend officers, commanders and support staff at HPD for this effort and hope we can work to maintain our goal of keeping our growing city as safe as we can.”
Houstonians deserve to feel that the streets they travel are safe again and be confident that whether shopping, eating out, going to special events, work, the doctor or volunteering to help the poor and homeless, you can feel safe doing it.
No one deserves to worry, feel apprehensive, unsafe or experience continuous trauma behind the actions of these unlawful goons.
Let all things be done decently and in order. Safety must be a priority on our streets and in our neighborhoods because our parents and grandparents live there, our children reside and walk home from schools there and because we shop here and walk on streets and in parks here.
Houston can be a “welcoming city’, but a strong message must be sent that Crime and Criminals are not welcome here.
This can no longer be a “sanctuary city” for people who want to continue terrorizing honest law abiding citizens who live, work and love this city.