Houston Police: "No overtime budget for essential police operations"

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Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks to the media at an apartment complex in southeast Houston. (KTRK)

A Houston grandmother's pleas to Mayor Sylvester Turner to "do something" about crime in her area are heartbreaking.

While the mayor cannot be expected to be everywhere or have officers everywhere, when we shared her thoughts with you early Wednesday morning, the mayor's office pointed to a recent police overtime increase he made.

RELATED: Grandmother of boy hit by stray bullet calling on mayor to clean up crime

We have investigated the way the city of Houston is funding crime fighting because when there is less money, there are fewer officers available.

Earlier this year, we noticed Houston Police Department response times were on the rise.

RELATED: Alarming rise in HPD response times to life-threatening emergency calls
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Ted Oberg Investigates looks at the reasons why Houston Police response time is so alarmingly high.

We hit the road and heard from officers who felt overworked. Police work depends on overtime hours to get the job done and this year, our investigation showed the mayor slashed the police department's overtime budget drastically.

In fact, Chief Art Acevedo told us earlier this year he basically had no operational overtime and that makes it very hard.

When Acevedo suggested at a city council meeting he may need more overtime dollars, the mayor sternly warned him to stay within budget.

Mayor Turner did recently add a million dollars to HPD's overtime budget, but that doesn't make it whole and it doesn't restore cuts.

When we asked about it, Turner insisted he is increasing the city's police budget.

"The police overtime budget in 2018 went from $4.5 to about $9.5 million and I just recently added $1 million for overtime specifically for this area," Turner said.

We can't find the numbers the mayor is talking about. We asked his office and the police department but haven't heard anything yet.
We looked at next year's police budget and the budgeted overtime does increase, but still is less than two years ago.

And when looking at the line-item proposed for the area where the shooting happened, Southeast Patrol, and its overtime budget, it's cut too.

Police department documents prepared for the upcoming budget talks say that in 2018 there was "no overtime budget for essential police operations such as SWAT, late call-outs, and events requiring police presence" and "decreased overtime for civilian staff which decreased the flexibility of civilian dispatch personnel during peak periods as well as decreased flexibility to meet state/federal regulations for reporting crime statistics."

The budget does add about 100 officer positions.

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crimehouston police departmentTed Oberg Investigates
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