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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
The Alianza Against Crime initiative is focused on enhancing the partnership between members of the Houston, Texas East End community and law enforcement through open bilingual dialogue and positive interaction. The Alianza, or alliance, will host five large-scale community events, one per month from June through September, in the five geographic beats of the HPD Eastside Division, culminating in a combined event for National Night Out.
The Alianza’s main goal is to empower members of the community, including non-English speaking individuals, in becoming actively involved in open dialogue with members of the Houston Police Department (HPD). It is also intended to provide crime prevention tips and resources to community members, enhance trust, and promote the department’s longstanding outreach initiative, the Positive Interaction Program. The HPD Explorers and neighborhood civic clubs also take part.
Houston’s East End is a predominantly Hispanic area with more than 116,000 Hispanic residents, most of them Spanish-speaking. Officers heard a growing concern from community members about recent state and potential federal directives. To address these concerns and allay local apprehension towards police, the officers in the East End created the Alianza to add a new, proactive initiative to their community-oriented policing strategies.
Alianza Against Crime is born
The initiative began on May 6, 2017, at Mason Park, a city park in the neighborhood. The first community event combined proactive and reactive activities: an open town hall forum for community and police dialogue, a resource fair, and stationary displays and hands-on activities hosted by HPD divisions. It had a formal sign-in count of 120 people, with an estimated 200 in attendance.
Town hall forum
At the forum, residents were able to ask questions directly to panelists from organizations including the Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office, the Mexican Consulate, the 3-1-1 City Helpline, and the Houston Department of Neighborhoods. The HPD was represented by Chief of Police Arturo Acevedo, Executive Assistant Chief Finner, Assistant Chief Williams, and Captain Cantu. Panelists fielded questions from the audience on topics ranging from quality-of-life issues, speeding vehicles, narcotics complaints, and information on the passage of Texas SB4.
At the Resource Fair, civic organizations—including many of those participating in the forum—set up booths to answer questions and provided helpful information to the public. Topics included how to report illegal dumping to the 3-1-1 City Helpline and how to report gang activity to the Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office.
The demonstration areas included offerings from the HPD SWAT, Mounted Patrol, Hostage Negotiation Team, Air Support unit, and K-9 unit. As well as teaching residents about police operations, these demonstrations gave the community a prime opportunity to interact with police one-on-one. “The main reason for having these events with the police, is to create an atmosphere of trust between the Hispanic community and local officials, it is a way to make our communities safer”, said Jay Deleon, a Houston resident.
There were also events for children, such as a face-painting booth. The HPD Explorer program played an integral role, assisting in handing out trinkets, police-themed wristbands, candy, stickers, and HPD autograph books.
“As a community leader in the Mason Park community, I want to commend all law enforcement agencies in taking time from their busy schedules and personal lives to promote a positive influence in the community.” Elisa Gonzalez, President, East Lawndale Civic Association.
“Tremendous opportunity for the public, especially young adults and children, to interact with law enforcement, especially with our local police officers.” Marilu De La Fuente, Treasurer and Secretary, Eastside Positive Interaction Program
“Alianza Against Crime is a superb event that allows residents to meet the law enforcement personally addressing real life situations in a changing world.” Victor Villareal, President, Greater Magnolia Park Civic Club
“Me gustó la información y traje a mi familia para que podrían escuchar a los lideres de la comunidad y su visión” (I liked the information the leadership offered and I brought my family so that they could be aware of the vision of our leadership.) Pablo Toscano, Magnolia Park Resident.
“Hable con el jefe de policia, y me dio gusto que estan colaborando con el Consulado de Mexico” (I spoke with the police chief and I liked that he has been working closely with the Mexican Consulate.) Antonio Torres, event attendee.
“Big shout out to the Eastside Division for their work to organize Alianza Contra El Crimen [Alianza/Alliance Against Crime]! Eastside’s proactive efforts are vitally important to strengthening community-police relationships.” Robert Gallegos, Houston City Council Member.
“The Alianza Against Crime is a fantastic way for the community and the police to get together for the purpose of uniting against crime! Alianza is also an opportunity to build and strengthen the police-community relationship, creating stronger bonds of trust and getting to know our neighbors.” Bruce Williams, Assistant Chief of Police.
“The event was formed to help ease fear in the community and strengthen the relationship with them. I know that the fear is real, I have witnessed it first-hand. I grew up in this neighborhood, and it effects everyone.” Patricia Cantu, Captain, HPD.
“Well organized with agencies that communities need to get familiar with and a very personalized way of meeting the new Chief of Police.” Maria Bolanos, Mayor’s Citizen Assistance Office.
“A very informative and fun event for the community to come together.” Maritza Pedraza, Department of Neighborhoods.
Officer Jason Cisneroz
Houston Police Department Eastside Division
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