HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and other HPD leaders discussed the department's annual "March on Crime" initiative Monday morning.
Acevedo highlighted specific efforts the department will employ to help "keep Houston safe."
"It's been a tough year," Acevedo said. "It's been a tough year for our country, and it's been a tough year for our community."
During the briefing, Acevedo recalled the moment he took his son to work. Acevedo said his son said he loved living in Houston. When Acevedo asked his 12-year-old son why, he said, "Because you have to have grit to live in Houston, you have to be tough."
Acevedo then shared the three main focuses the department wants to focus on this year: road rage, gun safety, and aggravated assaults.
In an effort to decrease the number of road rage incidents, Acevedo said he was happy to have formed a team with the Traffic Enforcement Division to pursue those contributing in those numbers.
"The reason we want to put an end to that is because death is final regardless of how you get there," he said. "You can't get that life back."
He said those that get stopped for street racing will not only get jailed, but will get their vehicles seized.
Shifting gears, Acevedo said the number of murders can likely drop if there's advocation for gun safety. He reminded gun owners to "make sure firearms are secured."
He also advised that firearms be removed if a household is unstable to reduce domestic violence incidents.
"Texans love firearms, but here's the problem. People are leaving firearms in their cars and criminals are targeting vehicles for firearms. Those firearms are then used to commit robberies, assaults and murders."
And for the many people that may be experiencing domestic violence, Acevedo assured in his briefing that victims should not be afraid to reach out for help.
"We promise you that we will get you on a path to safety and security," he said.
The "March on Crime" initiative was created in December 1984 after concerns grew of violent crimes being committed in the Black community, according to its proclamation.
During the briefing, Councilmember Sallie Alcorn declared next month as March on Crime Month in the city.
The campaign's first year achieved much success, including a similar program for the Hispanic community, "Lucha contra el Crimen."
While this may be an annual initiative, Houston has already seen a high volume of crime this year, especially among teens. Just three weeks into 2021, at least 10 teenagers in the Houston area have lost their lives because of gun violence. That's the highest number over that time period in the past five years.
The city closed out 2020 with 400 people murdered. That's a spike of at least 42% over 2019 and 100 more than the highs seen in 2015 and 2016, when the city hit 300 murders.
INTERACTIVE: Explore the map below for information on each homicide. The blue dots represent murders in 2019 and the red dots are murders this year. On mobile device? Click here for a full screen experience.
HPD chief highlights 3 main 2021 initiatives for 'March on Crime'
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