South side residents meet on crime

September 17, 2009 9:53:59 PM PDT
Some residents on the south side are fed up with crime in their area. More than 300 of them came together Thursday night to let their voices be heard. They spoke directly to the police chief and other elected officials. This crime meeting was sparked by a series of robberies in the area, but residents here say crime in general has gotten out of hand.

Carol Umstead says the past few weeks her family has lived in fear.

"We are still fairly shaken," said Umstead.

At the end of August on a Sunday night, her doorbell rang and rang. Her husband opened the door just a crack.

"Only to see a masked man with a bandana on his head, carrying a shotgun," said Umstead.

She is one of hundreds of homeowners concerned about the increase in crime in the MacGregor area.

More than 300 people gathered at Good Hope Church to talk to members of Congress, local leaders, constables, the police chief and his officers.

"What we are trying to do is isolate the incidents, the break-ins and the robberies, and keep the crime out of the neighborhood," said resident Tomaro Bell.

While many believe part of the problem is abandoned buildings and lots, solutions were suggested from an HPD storefront to hiring extra patrols with neighborhood association money.

"They are having more monitoring and more patrolling of the streets. That is going to help a lot in this neighborhood. Also, they brought up citizen involvement and that is so important. Everybody needs to be a nosy neighbor," said resident Sharone Mayberry.

Umstead says her family was fortunate. Her husband slammed the door on the masked gunman.

"Not lucky, but extremely blessed," said Umstead.

However, she fears the next family might not be.

"As mean and ugly as people are being nowadays, we have no reason to believe our lives were not in jeopardy," she said.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee says she has a scheduled meeting with a top Department of Justice official. She plans on asking them for additional federal dollars to add more police officers on Houston streets.

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