Harris County public safety news conference turns after Judge Lina Hidalgo questioned on spending

Alexandra del Moral Mealer is challenging the incumbent Judge Lina Hidalgo in November's election.

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Thursday, August 18, 2022
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While more work is always needed to stop crime in the county, Harris County leaders are celebrating strides in anti-crime initiatives, attributed to increased funding, which is due to rise even more.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A news conference on a new crime prevention initiative in Harris County took a turn after Judge Lina Hidalgo turned her focus on her upcoming election opponent.

This was the moment a news conference with Hidalgo on a new safety program took a turn as she laughed and visibly shook.

"It's laughable," Hidalgo said. "You have to laugh, frankly. Defunding as you see this increase? We should be laughing, and someone who is running on a laughable lie."

WATCH: 'It is a lie!' What set off Harris Co. Judge Hidalgo?

This moment came after Hidalgo highlighted Safe Harris. It's a $150 million program over the next four years.

During the event, we also got new numbers from Dec. 13, 2021, showing how extra money for overtime has allowed deputies to seize 279 guns, clear 1,303 warrants, and make 1,006 arrests on new charges. The money is helping now, but Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he asked for it sooner.

"We're definitely grateful for the resources that we are receiving," Gonzalez said. "We absolutely still could use more."

Hidalgo said two-thirds of the new county budget is spent on law enforcement. She's allocated millions more into programs and increased pay to help the district attorney's office find staff.

PREVIOUS STORY: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is being challenged within her own party

Those are numbers that she used to attack her opponent during the news conference.

"It is a lie, defunding. And you are hurting our law enforcement and you're hurting our democracy when you're willing to spread lies," Hidalgo said.

ABC13 asked her opponent, Alexandra del Moral Mealer, about this.

"Their morale is beat down not because I said they weren't properly funded," del Moral Mealer said. "It's because of her actions. She broke our criminal justice system and now is passing the blame."

SEE MORE: Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo suggests DA Kim Ogg could have her 'indicted' as political ploy

Del Moral Mealer is running against Hidalgo. She's happy to see the increased law enforcement spending, but she wonders where it was over the past couple years.

"The word defunding is too offensive," del Moral Mealer said. "What I would say is very straightforward is, 'Lina, you're anti-law enforcement. You've not supported our law enforcement. You've created a revolving door at the courthouse and during COVID your answer to things was let's release a thousand people from our jail.'"

This is a public safety debate expected to last for the next few months until the election.

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