Mayor's Office Press Release
More Officers Hit The Streets, Police Presence Increases In Parks & Downtown
June 30, 2016 -- Mayor Turner today unveiled an aggressive plan to “take back our parks” and improve public safety overall. The plan involves the deployment of 175 patrol officers from desk jobs to beat patrols, 13 more park rangers, an overtime program for roving HPD patrols in targeted parks and a new patrol division dedicated to the Central Business District.
“Several parks, the downtown library, METRO rail stations and other areas are being taken over by drug users,” said Mayor Turner. “They are scaring away families and taxing our emergency medical services with their calls for help when they overdose. We can’t have people smoking Kush and passing out just feet from where our children are playing. We are going to take back our parks and at the same time improve public safety throughout the city.”
The stepped up enforcement effort will be concentrated in Hermann Park, Peggy’s Point at the corner of Main Street and Richmond Avenue, the Central Library/Tranquillity Park/Hermann Square area and Main Street Square. The park rangers will receive HPD training and be outfitted with radios so they will be able to communicate directly with HPD. METRO has increased enforcement along the rail line and HPD is using overtime to add roving bike and golf cart patrols in the parks. These new components are in addition to the 175 extra officers that were already expected to begin hitting the streets with the start of the City’s new fiscal year on July 1. About 50 of those cops will be assigned to the new downtown division and others will be assigned to neighborhood patrols.
Almost half of the 3,000 ambulance runs by city paramedics for drug overdoses since last September are attributed to Kush. Heat maps show the problem is concentrated in the downtown area. Houston is not alone in dealing with the Kush problem. A check of news reports finds many other cities, including Dallas and Austin, are also wrestling with the issue. Kush, also known as Spice and K2, is a dangerous synthetic drug that causes a comatose or aggressive behavior. It consists of potpourri that is sprayed with synthetic chemicals from China. There are more than 100 different types of chemicals that can be used to produce it. It became an illegal substance in 2012.
Mayor Turner urges individuals on the streets using Kush and/or suffering from substance abuse to seek help by contacting the Houston Recovery Center at 713-236-7810. Members of the general public looking for information and referral services should contact The Council on Recovery at 713-914-0556.