Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, citing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s call for a gang crackdown in Houston, says federal money aimed at the supposed “border surge” should be spent on attacking city crime. “The crisis is not at the border,” Acevedo says.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called for a gang crackdown in Houston after the death of Jazmine Barnes, and Police Chief Art Acevedo agrees, saying he would like to do so with federal funds now being used to combat the “border surge,” the Houston Chronicle reports. “The crisis is not at the border,” Acevedo said, referring to President Trump’s calls for a $5.7 billion border security plan, including his proposed border wall. “It’s on the streets of our cities,” Acevedo said. He dismissed Trump’s depiction of a “growing humanitarian and security crisis” 300 miles to the south as political theater and contends data will show Houston and other U.S. cities should be the priority of federal law enforcement. The Gulf Coast is home to about 20,000 registered gang members, most of whom Acevedo described as “homegrown, natural-born, red-blooded Americans.”
Acevedo said he spoke to William Barr, Trump’s attorney general candidate, and asked for more focus on data-driven policing, rather than “political rhetoric and the demonization of immigrations.” The back-and-forth between the chief and the governor was triggered by the arrest of an alleged member of the Five Deuce Hoover Crips street gang in Jazmine’s Dec. 30 drive-by shooting death, and Abbott’s suggestion that Houston needs a boost in anti-gang resources. “There are too many gangs in Houston,” Abbott wrote on Twitter. “We must expand the Texas Anti-Gang Task Force in Houston to clean our streets of this trash and restore safety.” Abbott cited a message from the Houston Police Officers Union president that depicted suspected gunman Larry Woodruffe as “the dirtbag” who killed the 7-year-old child. Union boss Joe Gamaldi branded Woodruffe a “documented gang member” and shared another image he contended was an image of him brandishing a rifle and pistol.