Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $699,999)
Harris County Sheriff’s Office
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is applying for grant funding under the FY 2022 Local Law Enforcement Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) Integration Initiative. HCSO is requesting $700,000 over a three-year period to increase its collaboration with the ATF Crime Gun Strike Force and expand the existing Houston-area CGIC. This grant will enable Harris County to hire three additional personnel to enhance its capability to identify violent gun offenders, build criminal cases, and curb gun violence.
Harris County is a very large urban county with the nation’s third largest county population at 4.7 million residents. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is the primary law enforcement agency for the 2 million individuals who reside in the unincorporated areas. Unfortunately, Harris County has a significant and growing violent crime problem. During the period of 2019 to 2021, the total number of gun-related aggravated assaults handled by HCSO rose by 66%. Aggravated assaults are a serious concern for Harris County residents.
The Sheriff’s Office has taken a number of important steps to combat this problem. HCSO is an active participant in the ATF Crime Gun Strike Force, which utilizes collaboration between law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies to share intelligence with the goal of detecting, investigating, and prosecuting violent gun crime. HCSO currently has a Task Force Officer detailed to the local ATF office. In addition, HCSO entered into an MOU with ATF and installed a BrassTRAX system at the Crime Laboratory to process cartridge cases recovered from crime scenes. The system is staffed by licensed NIBIN technicians trained in image acquisition protocols. HCSO patrol deputies bring all fired cartridge cases from crime scenes to the accredited crime lab, where the ballistic evidence undergoes NIBIN analysis.
Despite implementation of these best practices, violent gun crime in Harris County is on the rise. Grant funds will be used to hire three additional personnel dedicated to combatting the increase in aggravated assaults. HCSO will add two Task Force Officers to work collaboratively with the Crime Gun Strike Force to identify linked shootings and develop leads. These deputies will focus on reducing Harris County’s aggravated assault numbers. In addition, Harris County will create a Criminal Research Analyst position at the District Attorney’s Office to support the work of prosecutors who handle violent gun crime cases. Finally, HCSO will promote the importance of gun safety at community meetings and events.