2 new violence prevention programs to launch in north Harris County

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County and the City of Houston announced two new violence prevention programs Wednesday morning.

The initiatives come as violence continues across our area, including against children.

Two incidents occurred within hours of each other on Tuesday.

At 4:20 p.m. in the 7500 block of Bissonnet, a 13-year-old boy was shot three times in the parking lot of a grocery store across from Sharpstown High School and near Sugar Grove Academy Middle School in southwest Houston.

The teen is expected to survive.

Then at 9 p.m., a 9-year-old girl and her family were on the way to a grocery store when someone fired at their Tahoe during an apparent road rage incident on the Southwest Freeway. The girl was shot in the head and is in critical condition.

The new violence prevention programs include hospital-based intervention and a Holistic Assistance Response Team (HART), which is an alternative to law enforcement for non-emergency calls related to various social needs.
"According to every town for gun safety, fewer than 4% calls are related to violent crime, even in cities with high homicide rates. We owe it to police and to our communities to make sure that those law enforcement officers can be out there patrolling neighborhoods, like neighborhoods want to see," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. "As opposed to responding to calls that other professionals can respond to."

Both pilot programs will be launched in Cypress Station in north Harris County.

In October 2021, a 13 Investigates analysis of more than 210,000 incidents reported to the Harris County Sheriff's Office since 2019 found the Cypress Station area has the most crime in the county. That didn't include crimes reported to the Houston Police Department, which 13 Investigates analyzed in 2020, or other law enforcement agencies that serve the county.

READ MORE: 13 Investigates: How residents in this North Harris County neighborhood became numb to crime

Cypress Station now appears to be a focus for leaders.
Last week, Hidalgo was joined by Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez to unveil the details of their $50 million "Clean Street, Safe Neighborhoods" program. Commissioner's Court approved funding last October for the initiative, which targets blighted buildings, dark streets and other abandoned structures considered incubators of crime and gun violence.

Part of the unveiling of that program included the demolition of an eight-story apartment building that has been abandoned since August 2020. The county said the structure has been used by drug dealers to hide weapons and narcotics.
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