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Houston police union warns city is 'not safe' as murder suspects are left 'walking the streets'

Leaders of the Houston Police Officers’ Union are sounding the alarm on the city’s safety as criminal suspects walk the streets on bond while the police department battles officer shortages.

“I have never in my lifetime – and I’m a lifelong Houstonian –  seen this many suspected murderers and capital murderers who are walking the streets of Houston out on multiple bonds,” the union’s executive director Ray Hunt told Fox News Digital. 

“I would not let my wife or my kids walk down the streets of Houston at midnight under any circumstances,” he continued. “It is not safe in major cities in 2024, and it’s not safe here.”


The warning comes as the Houston Police Department continues to struggle with recruiting and retaining officers, an issue plaguing departments across the nation.

“We’re in a perfect storm right now,” President Douglas Griffith said. “We had the George Floyd effect come down. We can’t hire. We can’t retain our officers. The people are leaving left and right.”

“Who in the heck wants to be a police officer in 2024?” Hunt asked, “when every single thing that they’re doing is going to be second-guessed by their body-worn camera that someone can watch three or four times to determine whether or not that officer made the right split-second decision. I don’t know who would want to do that. I could not encourage any of my family to come be a police officer in 2024 with the situation that’s going on.”

According to Griffith, the Houston City Council was made aware of department shortages a decade ago, after a 2014 Sam Houston State University report revealed a shortage of 1,500 officers in the city.

“In 2014, it said if Houston was staffed like Chicago, we would have 9,602 sworn officers. At that time we had about 5,600 – 4,000 short. Now we have just over 5,000. We’ve already lost officers since then,” Hunt said.

As a result of this shortage, “we will never be able to be able to investigate” every case, Griffith added.

“A survey of investigative division commanders revealed excessively high numbers of cases with leads that were not investigated in 2013 due to lack of personnel,” Hunt continued. “This was 2014 they’re writing this. For burglary and theft, nearly 15,000 cases were suspended –  3,000 assault cases in the homicide division, 3,000 hit-and-run cases for that year. They knew that. Everyone knew that we were shorthanded, and now everyone wants to say, ‘Wow, these officers are lazy. They’re not doing your job.’ Completely untrue.”


“This was presented to City Council at the time, this was presented to every person. And you can find the tapes on there where one of the council members says, ‘Wow, y’all just put us on notice that we’ve got a serious staffing problem.'”

Houston Police Department vehicles

Griffith also called out the court system for “not doing their job.” 

“Their contention is that we can’t hold somebody. We have to give everybody a bond, yes, the first time. Once they violate that bond, they can be held in jail until they go to court again. And we get people on six, seven, eight, nine bonds at one time. And that’s a problem that we have to fix in the courts. And with the DA’s office, you try to make sure that these public offenders can’t be continued to roam the streets and victimize our citizens.”

Hunt said suspects in Harris County, where Houston is located, may not go to court for five to six years. However, criminals in Montgomery County, just north of Houston, are held accountable.

“Crooks in this area know the boundary lines of Harris County and Montgomery County. They don’t want to commit crimes in Montgomery County because they know they’re going to be held responsible.”

Last month, police in Austin, Texas described staffing shortages and longer 911-call response times in the aftermath of the city council’s vote to defund the department in 2020. 

Austin Police Association President Michael Bullock told Fox News Digital that a steady decline in public safety had put the city on the “brink of disaster.” In February, a section of the city was notably left without a single police officer for a few hours on a Saturday.

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