AP NEWS

HPD chief calls for border funds to go to local law enforcement instead

January 10, 2019

Gov. Greg Abbott has called for a gang crackdown in Houston following the death of Jazmine Barnes and Chief Art Acevedo agrees, as long as it happens with federal funds being allocated to combat the “border surge.”

The arrest of at least one alleged gang member in Jazmine’s death during a Dec. 30 drive-by shooting on Wednesday prompted Abbott to request an expansion of the Texas Anti-Gang Task Force in Houston, even though the girl’s death happened in east Harris County.

Abbott pitched the expansion by sharing a tweet from Houston Police Officers Union President Joe Gamaldi that slammed suspected gunman Larry Woodruffe as “the dirtbag” that killed Jazmine.

“Take a good look before people start framing him as some misunderstood youth, here he is flashing gang signs and below is his extensive criminal history at the ripe old age of 24,” Gamaldi tweeted.

Acevedo thanked the governor for acknowledging the child’s death and made note that the slaying that sparked international outrage did not happen in his jurisdiction.

“We’re hopeful that this will lead him to actually divert some very critical funds” to local law enforcement, such as Houston Police Department and Harris County Sheriff’s Office, to curb violent crimes, Acevedo said. The chief’s remarks came as President Trump on Tuesday night went on TV to tout a $5.7 billion proposal for a steel border wall to stop a “growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.”

“Instead of a spending a billion dollars on a border surge, I think the money could have spent more wisely in the hands of local crime fighters,” Acevedo said.

The chief said the Houston area is home to about 20,000 registered members, most of whom are “homegrown, natural-born, red-blooded Americans.” Trump, however, has made border security part of his political platform to tackle the international gang known as MS-13, which began in Los Angeles.

“The crisis is not at the border,” Acevedo said. “There’s not a public safety crisis. What happens at the border, that’s political theater. What’s happening in our communities, that’s what we need to focus on.”

nicole.hensley@chron.com

twitter.com/nkhensley

AP RADIO
Update hourly