Overcrowded jail troubles new Harris County sheriff-elect

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Ed Gonzalez spent part of the morning after the election with Eyewitness News' Tom Koch and Samica Knight (KTRK)

There's going to be a new sheriff in town after Ed Gonzalez ousted Ron Hickman from the post in Harris County.

The former HPD officer and District H city councilmember won the office with 53 percent to 47 percent of the vote.

VIDEO: Ron Hickman concedes to Gonzalez
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Ron Hickman concedes race to Ed Gonzalez.

The incumbent Hickman conceded to Gonzalez just after 10pm Tuesday, and this morning he spoke with Eyewitness News about his plans to keep Harris County safe.

Gonzalez said he won on a strong platform of addressing serious crime, but was also helped by a strong turnout by Democrats in the county.

With a mandate from voters, Gonzalez told ABC13 he is now focusing on the overcrowded Harris County jail and how to reduce costs in its management.

VIDEO: Sheriff-elect Gonzalez speaks with Foti Kallergis about future plans
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Ed Gonzalez speaks with Foti Kallergis about his plans to keep Harris County safe

"We're not addressing serious crime in the county by simply looking at minor nonviolent offenses," Gonzalez said. "We need to redo that, really help pursue reform."

Currently, 75 percent of those in the Harris County jail cannot afford to bond out, Gonzalez said.

One possible answer, the sheriff-elect says, is community-oriented policing and improved relationships with residents.

The second answer may come in finding ways to address incarcerations for nonviolent criminals.

Gonzalez has experience in these situations after developing the City of Houston's sobering center.

"When we helped divert those incarcerated for intoxication, I'll use the same approach," Gonzalez said. "Looking for evidence-based programs that have been successful around the country...in my opinion, we need to do a better job of addressing those that suffer from mental illness and addictions as well."

Gonzalez said he spoke with Hickman shortly after the election was called and had a "cordial conversation." He hopes they can work through the transition before he takes office in January.


RELATED: Hickman, Gonzalez square off in ABC13/Univision debate

Related Topics:
politicsharris county sheriffs office2016 electionelectionelection dayHarris County
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