Anti-gang program labelled a success

December 13, 2011 10:49:33 AM PST
It's been one year since Harris County enacted its first ever anti-gang injunction. The move created a so-called "safe zone" in northeast Houston, to cut down on crime and gang activity.

Haverstock Hills apartment complex on Aldine Bender and Lee Road is well-known to many members of the law enforcement community because of on-going problems with gang activity. But a lot has changed within the last year.

Over the course of the last year, with the help of the District Attorney's Office, the Sheriff's Office and community activists, they have worked on creating a safe zone where gang members are not allowed in. They have worked on legal injunctions, and opened a community center to really make an impact for area residents.

On the one year anniversary, officials are reporting good news for the project. They've seen a decline of more than 60 percent in calls for service to Haverstock Hills. They say families now actually feel safe in the apartment complex and feel like they are home.

"It took everybody to transform Haverstock Hills," said Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos. "What we have done here can be replicated. We've worked smart, we've worked tough. But most of all, the children no longer are wearing gang colors and flashing gang signs, because that was the only role models that they saw here."

Supporters say what they see more than anything else is a renewed excitement among parents and children who feel they are living in a safer community -- a community where children can grow up, go to school and participate in activities without worrying about the threat of gang violence.

Of course, all is not perfect. There are still some issues at Haverstock Hills as well as at a number of other apartment complexes throughout Harris County. But organizers say if the success here is any indication, this is a program they would like to spread to other complexes.


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