Pct. 3 Commissioner holds Safety Meeting

Leaders, community gather for Community Safety Forum

By David Taylor
Managing Editor

CROSBY – Pct. 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey assembled a team of seven leaders from throughout the county, including himself, to form a panel to listen to concerns from the Crosby-Huffman-Barrett Station community on Monday night, April 29, 2024.

Ramsey hosted District Attorney Kim Ogg, Harris County Pct. 3 Constable Sherman Eagleton, Harris County Sheriff’s Office Major John Nanny, Huffman ISD Police Chief David Williams, Victim’s Rights Advocate Andy Kahan, and Harris County Fire Marshal Chad Shaw.

The mostly full Crosby Community Center also had team members from each of the departments and tables with information spread across the back of the main room.

“There’s nothing more important than safe neighborhoods,” Ramsey said as he opened the meeting.

Most of Ramsey’s precinct is in unincorporated Harris County.

“Thank your lucky stars that you live here, and you know why? The crime rate in the county is about one third of what it is in the city of Houston. [This year] there are 300 murders in the city of Houston and 100 in unincorporated Harris County,” he said.

Ramsey told the crowd that approximately 95 percent of his neighborhoods are patrolled by a contract deputy program.

Response times are shorter as well. The type of call also determines the length of response. In a 2023 Chronicle investigation, they found response times for Priority 1 calls, which should be under four minutes, had reached a high of eight minutes instead; Priority 2 calls as much as 15- 20 minutes; and Priority 3 calls longer than an hour.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office, according to Ramsey, remains between 5-10 minutes on most calls, and he said that is a result of contract deputies.

“We have 6,800 miles of road to maintain safe roads, and the two correlate together,” he explained.

Ramsey said everything is underfunded: infrastructure, courts, the jail, prosecutors, investigators in the sheriff’s office, and the list goes on.

“I want you to know that regardless of what you may see, there are people that are working day and night to try to make these neighborhoods safer,” he told the interested crowd.

DA Kim Ogg didn’t mince words.

“We’re nearly 5 million people county-wide. Combined we have less than 13,500 officers. That’s just not enough,” she said.

“We see funding being directed at things other than infrastructure and law enforcement. Instead, they’re being directed to special interests,” she said adding that a lot of money is going out of state.

She also blamed the court for diverting funds with consulting contracts, studies, and more unnecessary services.

“We fight crime in three parts,” she said. “Law enforcement is part one, the DA’s office is part two, and the courts is part three.”

The courts, she said, are throwing out charges because of personal beliefs, leaving the courts sometimes acting in opposition to law enforcement.

“They [law enforcement] make the case, we accept the charge, and then we take them to court,” she explained.

Ogg also said there were holes in the bucket. Cases being thrown out, HPD not filing on thousands of cases they have, which recently came to light, and Ogg said that’s not the way it’s supposed to go.

She promised coming to their website very soon will be a roadmap to show which judges are doing what when it comes to throwing out those cases.

“That’s what the public wants, and that’s what I’m going to give you,” she said.

“I’m a Democrat, Ramsey’s a Republican, and we’re both for public safety. It doesn’t have a party title so we’re just pushing for common sense solutions,” she told the crowd.

Eagleton, who has been with the Pct. 3 constable’s office for 31 years, is in his eighth year as constable and he has grown the department.

“When I first took office, we had 124 deputies and now we have a little over 200 and those numbers came from the contract deputy program,” he said.

Even with those numbers, Eagleton said it’s tough to recruit and fill more positions because of pay competition with other departments in the county.

Kahan said the government should be looking out for the victims, their due process and rights.

“Somehow, in the last few years, that’s kind of insecure under the guise of criminal justice reform, and that’s where Crimestoppers steps up to the plate,” he said.

Before COVID hit, Kahan said they noticed a recycling of criminals through the courthouse beginning in 2019.

“We started documenting people who’ve been murdered by defendants released on multiple felony bonds or personal recognizance.”

They documented over 200 people that had been murdered by defendants released on more than one bond, who became wanted fugitives committing additional crimes.

They went to the state legislature in 2021 to change that and finally got some success.

“We can’t do it without the public’s help,” he said. “I can’t go back and change what happened to you or your family, but we try to make things better for others to come along. We try to take negatives and turn them into positives, but we can’t do it without your help.”

Harris County Fire Marshal Chad Shaw discussed how his office was inspecting schools for fire emergencies and protecting the elderly by shutting down boarding homes and assisted living centers not abiding by the law.

“Like kids, they can’t defend themselves, so we’re looking for these places to make sure that our people are being taken care of the way they’re supposed to be,” he said.

Harris County Sheriff’s Office Major John Nanny grew up in Sheldon and knows the challenges a growing Crosby is facing.

“I meet with Crosby ISD monthly, and with community leaders to address and solve issues here,” he said.

When Huffman ISD began their new district police department, they called on former city of Humble police chief David Williams to head their organization.

He reported that the district has installed bullet resistant film on all the first floor glass throughout the district.

“We’re also working on access with our outer perimeter to control the ingress and egress of vehicles coming on the campus throughout the day,” he said.

He announced that the district, with the help of Commissioner Ramsey, will soon have license plate readers around the schools.

“It will help us prevent auto theft, or alert us to non-custodial parents coming on the campus that shouldn’t be there, capture the plate of an intruder, and much more. If a child is kidnapped, we can find them faster with LPRs,” he said.

Ramsey said his office is trying to catch up on diverted spending on roads and bridges in the district.

“I’m spending over $30 million on road repairs. I’m not reconstructing all the roads, some of that’s an overlay, some of that base repair, some of that’s dealing with the ditches. For every 6,800 miles of road in our district, nearly every one of those roads has a ditch. If you’re not cleaning your ditches every seven years, you’re backing up. Some of these ditches have never been cleaned out,” he said.

The commissioner urged residents to submit issues they have on his web site at https://www.pct3.com/.

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