Montrose Patrol Profiles: Officer Lee Jaquarya
Lee Jaquarya grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in a neighborhood so dangerous that his parents wouldn’t let him stray beyond the front yard of their house. “I saw a lot of stuff going on, and I would always ask my parents, why is this happening?” Jaquarya remembered. “What can we do to help?”
Jaquarya would sometimes tag along with his uncle, a police officer, during his off-duty volunteer work in the community. “It was pretty uplifting to see the joy in people’s lives when someone takes time out of their day to help them out,” he remembered. “My uncle’s always been a role model for me. He told me, there are going to be bad people out there, and you should do whatever you can to help.”
Inspired by his uncle, Jaquarya set his sights on becoming a policeman himself. After moving to Houston in his junior year of high school and earning a bachelor’s degree in communications at the University of Texas, Jaquarya joined the Houston Police Department. He’s been with the department eight years, all of it spent on the downtown-based Central Patrol.
For about as long as he’s been with HPD, Jaquarya has also worked overtime hours for the Montrose Patrol, a unit created and funded by the Montrose Management District to provide extra security for the neighborhood. Local business owners can call a dedicated phone number to report suspicious activity, and some high-traffic properties are set up with surveillance cameras.
“They can get a faster response from us than they would from calling 911, because we’re already in the area,” Jaquarya explained. “Sometimes we get calls from grocery stores about shoplifters, and we’re often able to get there in time to make an arrest.”
In his time with the Montrose Patrol, Jaquarya said he’s seen a dramatic decline in violent crime, drug dealing, and prostitution, which he attributes to the extra law enforcement presence. These days, he spends most of his time responding to reports of panhandling, trespassing, and car burglaries.
To increase awareness about vehicle theft, Jaquarya sometimes leaves “report cards” on the windshields of parked cars. If a door is unlocked, a window open, or valuables are in view, Jaquarya gives them a failing grade. “It’s just to remind them that, hey, there are going to be criminals around.”
The most rewarding part of his job, Jaquarya said, is when he gets recognized by someone he helped out in the past. “Police officers don’t always get the best rep when it comes to the community,” he said. “So it’s powerful to have someone come up to you and thank you for something you did months ago.”
Learn more about the Montrose Management District’s public safety program.