On Feb. 19, about 30 area residents met with Houston Police Department (HPD) officers from the Kingwood Police Station for a roundtable discussion at its monthly Kingwood Positive Interaction Program (PIP.) Usually PIP meetings feature a guest speaker to explain specific police activities and programs such as the K9 police dog unit or the Crime Stoppers Program. This meeting was different in that it was an open-ended discussion session about anything residents wanted to learn or ask about regarding HPD in Kingwood. Officer Daniel Von Quintus, the liaison officer for PIP, introduced Cmdr. Rose Terry, Lt. C.L. Salazar and Officer Ayaht Nichols.
Terry opened the roundtable with good news for Kingwood. She said, “The 2018 crime for our division was the lowest it has been for at least five years. We ended up being about 300 crimes lower than in any other year of the previous four years. It was a really good year for us.”
An attendee asked, “What worked?” to which Von Quintus replied, “I think it is officers getting more out there. We are trying to be more visible. Most people know of the manpower challenges in the City [of Houston], but most of our officers live out here and take pride in being out here and being visible and helping people. I think that has a lot to do with it.”
Terry added to that sentiment, saying, “We try to be vigilant out here. We would love to have more officers but with what we do have we have to make the best of it.”
She described the way crimes often seem to occur in the area by using a recent example of a sudden spike in burglaries of a motor vehicle (BMVs), saying, “When we get issues here they come in bulk.” Terry said that the spike that occurred was the result of three kids who broke into a vehicle and discovered that they liked doing it as much for fun as for anything else. Suddenly the number of BMVs in Kingwood went up, but when the three suspects were identified and one of them was arrested, the spike subsided. Terry noted arrest warrants for the other two were still outstanding as of the time of the meeting.
A recent and still unsolved sexual assault of an adult woman in Kingwood’s East End Park was a major topic of conversation. Terry noted the victim was able to get away from her assailant and ran to a nearby house to seek help and contact authorities. Terry said that the assailant had not yet been identified and the investigation is still underway. She also said that the assault occurred Friday afternoon, Feb. 15 and HPD did not release official public information about it until Monday, Feb. 18. However, there were reports on local social media and the internet over that weekend. Meeting attendees raised questions about how and what information from HPD is released to the public and also when it is released.
“When we put out information, we never put out personal information on anybody that has been involved in an incident. We don’t give phone numbers, addresses, Social Security numbers. We give nothing,” Terry said, explaining that when the department releases any information they have to assume the crooks read it. “So I like to keep it [specific information] between what I call our house to not give them more ammunition. They do not need to know what we know or are trying to do.”
Dee Price, president of the Kingwood Service Association (KSA), responded to Terry’s explanation by raising questions about communicating essential information to affected parties in a more timely manner than was the case in this instance. She pointed out that Kingwood parks are privately owned by KSA and the association has the responsibility of taking appropriate actions or notifying affected nearby residents when incidents such as this one occur. She said KSA, through Kingwood’s community associations, has the ability to rapidly alert residents with any relevant information about potential threats to the public’s safety.
Terry said that as the head of the Kingwood police force, she would work on getting locally affected organizations such as KSA notified in a timely manner whenever possible.
Other topics at the meeting included how HPD coordinates with nearby law enforcement groups such as Humble ISD Police, Montgomery County constables, and Harris County constables and timely responses to 911 phone calls.
PIP meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Kingwood Church of Christ, 2901 Woodland Hills Drive. It is open to the public and all residents are welcome. Both HPD and KSA’s Public Safety Committee encourage area residents to attend and participate.