CRIME IS RISING AND HARRIS COUNTY IS ON THE DECLINE

A8 | Sunday, November 14, 2021 | HoustonChronicle.com

City | State

Download The Op-Ed

It’s time to hit the panic button. After a few years of catering to Democrats in Washington, our reputation and the safety of our communities is at risk.

Lina Hidalgo has invented new ways for Harris County to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on politically connected consultants to try and “re-imagine” the criminal justice system, while Harris County residents are being subjected to increasing rates of violent crime. Houston, known as the “Energy Capital of the World” or “Space City,” can now add the moniker of “Murder Capital U.S.A.” to the list, with the highest homicide rate in 30 years and more homicides this year than Los Angeles, a city of nearly twice as many people. The statistics are startling, but the stories of the victims are totally heartbreaking. Just this summer, a father driving his two sons back from the Astros game had his 17-year-old son shot in the head and killed by a violent criminal (and prior felon) who was subsequently able to post bond and is now out walking the streets. Is this really okay, Houston?

So, what has the Commissioner’s Court done under Hidalgo to address the crisis? Not much. While Judge Hidalgo recently approved $50 million to address crime through “environmental design,” there always seems to be a budget shortage when it comes to adding prosecutors or law enforcement officers needed to address the backlog of roughly 100,000 criminal court cases. If only that same sense of fiscal responsibility applied to awarding an $11 million vaccine outreach contract to an unqualified political insider and one-time DNC operative.

Morale for the brave law enforcement officers that patrol our streets and work in our jails is at an all-time low. Thanks to District Court Judges like Greg Glass, who share Hidalgo’s radical views of justice, Harris County courts have become a revolving door for violent, repeat offenders. There seems to be little to no differentiation between non-violent and violent offenders. Hidalgo even voted to condemn Senate Bill 21, a bill aimed specifically at making it more difficult for people previously accused of violent crimes to get out on bail. While Hidalgo uses her position to gain national spotlight, Harris County suffers. These habitual, violent offenders that are being let out on bail are alleged to have killed police officers and some of our most innocent youth. Enough is enough.

It’s time to stand up for Harris County—we cannot sit back and watch Houston become the next Chicago. Galleria parking areas have at times been patrolled by armed gangs, reminiscent of Taliban controlled Afghanistan (and I should know, having served in Afghanistan), and the homeless camps that once merely rimmed downtown have stretched out through the bayous and into neighborhoods throughout the county. To tackle the epidemic of violent crime, we need to get back to basics and execute simple, effective solutions. Violent crime is heavily concentrated among a small group of persistent offenders with ~5% of offenders committing ~50% of the violent crime. To deal with this problem, we must elect prosecutors, judges and local leaders who will vigorously pursue these violent offenders.

My name is Alexandra del Moral Mealer and I am running for Harris County Judge. As a West Point graduate and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist (Army bomb squad) who served in Afghanistan, I’ve spent years honing my leadership and emergency management skills, delivering results under pressure. I can get Harris County refocused on the things that matter, like safe streets, providing essential services and mitigating damage from natural disasters. As a Harvard JD/MBA and energy finance professional, I know how to build an efficient and effective budget, allocate resources, and improve transparency.