Hispanics concerned to report crimes in Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo released new data Wednesday that shows a sharp decline in crime reporting by Houston's Hispanic population.

The police chief calls it an alarming trend here in Houston. New data suggests Hispanic victims of crime may not be turning to the police for help.

"A person that rapes or violently attacks or robs an undocumented immigrant or someone they believe to be an immigrant today, is somebody that's going to harm a natural born citizen, a lawful resident...will harm somebody tomorrow," said Chief Acevedo.

Chief Acevedo said there's been a 42.8 percent drop in the number of Hispanic victims reporting rape in the city.

For all violent crime, there's been a 13 percent drop in Hispanic victims reporting, while there's an 11.7 percent rise in non-Hispanic victim reports.

"We should all be concerned," said Chief Acevedo.

Just a few blocks from where Josue Flores was killed last year, northside residents told Eyewitness News that any drop-off in their neighborhood is likely an effort to survive.

"Sometimes I feel like people don't report crimes because I feel like there could be a backlash or retaliation. Sometimes they think it's better to remain silent or just turn a blind eye," says Machell Blackwell.

But Chief Acevedo believes the biggest factor is fear that reporting could lead to deportation.

"It is very important for the community to know if you know of someone who's been sexually assaulted and they're afraid to go to the police, to know that doesn't matter," explains Leticia Manzano.

Manzano is the Sexual Assault Services Coordinator at the Houston Area Women's Center. She says that's a myth they've fought all 19 years she's been here, but it's gotten worse in the last year.

"We're not here as ICE agents. They need to continue to be thoughtful. We have to be mindful that hearts and minds matter. To people of Houston, especially victims of crimes, we are here for the victims and witnesses. We are not ICE agents. HPD is open and here for victims, regardless of immigration status," said Acevedo.

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