Unlike a similar incident a few weeks ago, this time the alleged peeper wasn’t shot after attacking one of the child’s parents. In fact, in this most recent case, which, like the case I just mentioned, took place in Houston, homeowner Ike Umar was able to hold the prowler until police arrived. How long it took authorities to get there, however, is worth discussing in its own right, because it suggests some serious problems with police manpower at a time of rising crime rates.
Umar says his wife woke him up the other evening saying that she’d heard noises from the couple’s backyard. When the homeowner drew back the curtain on his bedroom window, he says he spotted a man looking through another window; the one in his six-month old daughter’s bedroom.
Umar grabbed his gun and confronted the man, who claimed he was unarmed and simply looking to get away from some gang members.
“When he said gang, six men and guns, I’m not thinking about my protection. I’m like, how can I keep these guys away long enough from my house so my daughter and my wife don’t get hurt?” said Umar.
Those thoughts went through Umar’s mind until Houston police officers finally arrived.
“So, you’re waiting five minutes, then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, then 20, and you’re wondering, ‘What the hell is going on?'” said Umar.
ABC7’s sister station ABC13 is working to get an explanation from HPD, but Umar said they told him that they had a busy night.
“I don’t care what they say. There’s no excuse,” he said. “If somebody’s house is broken in and I’m holding someone at gun point, I have to wait 47 minutes for help? I honestly lost total faith in HPD today.'”
Like the saying goes, when seconds count police are only minutes away. In this case, more than 45-minutes, if Umar’s timeline is accurate.
I don’t fault the officers themselves for taking so long to arrive. I do however, blame the city’s leadership. Houston is short hundreds of officers, and that in turn means that there aren’t enough cops on the street to respond, even to high priority situations.
Houston’s ABC affiliate recently highlighted the issue in another report on a crime-ridden apartment complex on the city’s south side.
Our investigation found there were 700 crimes reported at Los Cabos Apartments in the last 15 months, but not enough officers proactively patrolling the streets. Despite the apartment complex spending tens of thousands of dollars on private security, crime is still occurring there every day.
… HPD Commander Matthew May, who oversees the area where Los Cabos is located, said the apartment complex drives 25% of all crime in his district.
On any given shift, May typically has between 12 and 16 officers in his entire 45-mile district of more than 155,000 residents, stretching from Clear Lake to Airport Boulevard, north of Hobby Airport.
That’s not a lot, and that’s for a section of the city that includes some of the neighborhoods with the highest crime rates. Now, Houston’s city council has budgeted about $30-million more in funding for the police department next year, but that’s not going to change the fact that there aren’t enough cops on the street right now.
If it’s taking 47 minutes for police to respond to a call about a homeowner holding a stranger at gunpoint in their backyard, how long will it take for an officer to show up if there’s someone trying to break into your home? 20 minutes? 15 minutes?
The real answer is simply “too long.” Even in the best of circumstances, police aren’t there to serve as your on-call bodyguard ready to spring into action when you call 911. They’ll get there as fast as they can, but in the meantime you’re still on your own. Clearly Houston isn’t a city in the best of circumstances at the moment, which makes the ability to own a firearm for self-defense even more important. While Ike Umar may be rightfully upset by the lengthy response time to his 911 call, he should at least be grateful he lives in a state that respects his right to protect himself and his family from those who would do them harm.