Houston Community News >> Houston Asian Town Hall Meeting
5/12/2006 Houston -- Today's Town Hall meeting at the Houston Chinese Community Center discussed the issue of security in the Houston Chinatown area. The event, sponsored by Houston Asian American Business Council, Inc. (AABC), drew in a large and diverse crowd including area business owners, residents, community leaders, and police officers from Houston and Harris County.(L to R: Harris County Constable Lt. Chaplin, Officer Jason Staton, Kenneth Li, Jackson Cheng, and HPD Capt. Gressner of Westside Command Station)
Residents and business owners showed up to listen to the Houston Police Department, Harris County Constables, and AABC address the growing and ongoing crime problems in the Southwest area.
The first issue on hand was how the Houston Asian American Business Council (AABC) was to get funding for the Chinatown area's own security patrol officer. So far, over $80,000 have been contributed by various businesses and organizations. (Click here for the list).
The second issue was to open up the lines of communication between HPD and the Asian community. More importantly, reporting crimes to HPD. One of the biggest problem for some residents in the area is the language barrier. They are afraid to call because they cannot speak English. Actually, that should not be a problem since 9-1-1 operators can transfer the call to a translator, says Capt. Gressner of the Westside Command Station. "Just let the operator know what language you want to speak in and he/she will get a bilingual speaker on the line."(An apartment property manager addresses the panel on crime problems at his apartment)
The Harris County Constables were also on hand to address their involvement in the patrols in Chinatown. Three officers patrol the Sharpstown/Chinatown area each day. Bill Calderon, Executive Director of Sharpstown Management District, has said he will help Chinatown's crime problems by subsidizing funds for AABC and work in association with AABC to come up with a security plan.
According to crime statistics reported by Capt. Gressner, overall crime rate in the Houston Chinatown area has decreased by 20 percent since Sept. 2005. However, is little comfort for local residents. Many voiced out their own solutions to the crime problem by asking for more police in the area. But with a shortage of police officers all over Houston, this request seemed impossible.
The best way to prevent being a victim of a crime is to change your routine frequently, be aware of your surroundings, and to report any suspicious activities to police, says Capt. Gressner. "Choose different routes to go home and watch your mirror at night to see if you are being followed." At the end of the day, the best crime deterrent is to be proactive.
Police officer Jimmy Chau best summed up today's problems: "I am in charge of monitoring 50 apartment complexes in the Chinatown area. Just me and no one else." The lack of police resources means that the community and the residents must be proactive.
To fight crime is not a one person task, but requires the resolves of the entire community. Apartment property owners and managers need to do their part by screening out bad apples. Residents need to do their part by reporting suspicious activities because they are on the front lines. Community leaders need to do their part because they have the financial resources to hire outside security.