Houston area law enforcement officials expressed frustration this week at Harris County judges for dismissing large numbers of criminal cases amid a continuing crime surge in the region. They said that criminals feel empowered by lax punishments for violent offenders.
Mark Herman, Harris County Precinct 4, stated that he was informed by Kim Ogg, District Attorney, about the dismissal of thousands of cases by judges and magistrates. He said that her prosecutors had no other choice than to dismiss the cases.
During a press conference, he presented a document that stated that thousands of cases in 2021 did not have probable cause findings. The document did not indicate if the cases had been dismissed, why, or who was the judge or magistrate responsible.
“We can’t let these people go, without giving them a chance in court. Herman stated that we are seeing more and more criminal activity. If we don’t change our direction, Harris County is at risk of total collapse with regard to public safety. I am choosing to change my direction.”
According to the constable, he had gathered a team of people to review the cases and discuss them with the DA’s. He said that more than 100 criminal cases had been re-filed. However, he acknowledged that there are legitimate cases that need to be dismissed or refiled.
Eric Batton is the executive director of Harris County Deputies Organization. He blamed elected judges and other officials for failing to uphold the law.
He said that “Harris County has been razed” by murderers and rapists as well as robbers. It’s frustrating for law enforcement officers that they go out and do their jobs with the utmost accountability. But when the system turns around and refuses to work for them, it’s disconcerting.”
Officials claim that the increasing crime wave has been fuelled by the dismissals and bail reform laws. Houston was the most populous city in Texas. It had 473 homicides in 2021, which is a 20% increase over the previous year.
Fox News reported in December that at least 150 people were killed by criminal suspects in Harris County since 2018.
Ray Hunt, Executive Director at the Houston Police Officers Union stated that “these are cases where activist judges tried everything they could to find ways to dismiss that person with a long criminal record or multiple felonies bonds to put them out on the streets.”
Herman warned anyone who might be convicted of a crime within his jurisdiction that he would re-file the case if it is dismissed. Herman also mentioned the recent rise in gun violence, which has seen children and officers being shot or killed.
One of his deputies was killed, and two others were wounded in an ambush attack.