(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Badge & Gun asked incoming Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg to write an article briefing the HPD community on her goals as the new DA and covering many of the same points she outlined in a recent general membership meeting.)
By KIM OGG
Police fight crime in the streets, as prosecutors safeguard justice in the courts. While we have distinctly different roles in public safety, we also enjoy a history of working together to investigate and prosecute those who prey on our community.
This editorial reflects my commitment as the leader of the fourth largest district attorney’s office in the nation to assist all law enforcement officers in my jurisdiction who act with integrity to enforce the law, preserve the peace and ensure the personal safety of our citizens.
As a young prosecutor working in the late 80’s through the mid 90’s, followed by a tour of duty as Houston’s first anti-gang task force director and later as the executive director of Crime Stoppers of Houston, I worked with many experienced officers still employed by HPD and many more who are now retired. Together, we made “our bones” during a time when Houstonians suffered more than 700 murders a year and absorbed more than 60 percent of the state’s parolee population every day.
It was also a time when the Texas Legislature gutted mental health funding and forced the mentally ill by thousands into our jail system without allocating a “red dime” in funding to account for the impact. I was witness to countless numbers of HPD street-level officers and investigators who worked with professionalism and dedication to keeping my family and millions of others safe.
We solved homicides, rapes, robberies and successfully sent criminals to prison for decades. We educated the public about gangs and diverted thousands of young people from gang life. We reversed Houston’s crime waive – and we did it together.
When I entered private practice, it was only natural that cops and crime victims became the clients I proudly represented and defended in cases ranging from police disciplinary appeals to divorces and criminal accusations. And it was that same 360-degree experience of practicing law across the full legal spectrum over the past 30 years that made me uniquely qualified to be elected in 2016 as Harris County’s district attorney.
In a recent appearance at a union meeting, I was met with questions about false rumors and misinformation portraying me as soft on crime and in disunion with the concerns of members of the HPOU.
To those police officers truly concerned about my legal acumen and attitude toward law enforcement, I encourage you to review my professional record and ask your trusted colleagues who have personal knowledge about my reputation as a crime fighter and my unflagging support of officers who serve with honor. Do this and do it quickly because the future is here and the people of this city need us now, more than ever, to work together.
To that end we are about to unleash the combined power of our lawful abilities to protect Harris County residents from murderers, robbers, rapists, burglars and every gang we can disrupt. We are going to pay for our increased focus on crimes against people and property by reforming our drug prosecution policies and keeping patrol officers on the street rather than burdening them with time-consuming arrests for misdemeanor marijuana and other non-violent law violations.
As we save precious law enforcement resources through “pre-charge diversion” of misdemeanor marijuana offenders, we will at the same time recalibrate our combined efforts to increase arrests and prosecution of UCR Part I & II crimes. Every prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office now stands ready to help you help our citizens be safer. I believe this renewed partnership can work public safety wonders.
As your district attorney, I will provide every ounce of support I can to help you catch the most prolific criminals of this century. We all know that it’s not 100,000 crooks who commit 100,000 crimes; it’s closer to 1,000 who commit 100 crimes each. We’re talking here about the “crime drivers” in our communities who leave ordinary citizens to live in fear. Using intelligence-driven prosecution, our office is going to assist your agency in identifying them and bringing them to justice, one crook at a time.
My commitment is based upon an incident in my own childhood when a serial rapist kidnapped my 22-year-old mother from a bank parking lot in downtown Houston. She had the courage to throw herself from the car in her escape, but despite the HPD officers’ successful arrest of that rapist in 1962, the experience shaped our family’s lives forever.
I don’t want one more crime victim to face the decision my mother had to make: risking death through escape in order to prevent having her life taken by another. Together, let’s make the 21st Century Houston’s safest ever.
Someone’s life depends on it right now.