FAQ: Public Safety
Q: If a District can’t provide or supplant services of the city, how can it pay for public safety patrols, street sweeping, street light reporting, graffiti abatement, a county attorney and mobile camera programs?
A: A District can provide services that are “enhancements” to city services. Typically, a city will have limits to the amount of funding that can be devoted to a specific service area such as public safety. Management districts are special purpose districts that collect an assessment from commercial properties within the zone (district). The assessments are used to provide enhanced services such as public safety, street light reporting, graffiti abatement, county attorney and mobile camera programs.
Q: What does the Montrose District do to help reduce crime?
A: The District has a dedicated Public Safety and Security program comprised of HPD officers called the Montrose District Patrol. They are proactive and responsive to suspicious situation and make arrests as appropriate.
The officers have relationships with and work closely with the large commercial property owners/managers in the area including multi-family communities and retail stores and banks. Additionally, they inspect parked vehicles using Burglary of a Motor Vehicle (BMV) report cards and provide other crime prevention material to local retail and commercial businesses. They also provide crime prevention presentations and conduct Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) surveys whenever needed.
Q: How many officers work for the District?
A: There are 16 Houston Police Offices that work part-time for the District and commonly referred to as the Montrose District Patrol.
Q: What are the hours of the patrol?
A: The Montrose District Patrol work an average of 580 hours per month primarily focused during those times having more activity.
Q: Why are the patrol cars not marked?
A: The District provides for three (3) patrol vehicles. One of the vehicles is permanently “marked” as a police vehicle. The other two use magnetic signage denoting them as police vehicles as well. However, some issues facing Montrose have typically required some level of stealth and, therefore, to address them required that our additional security sometimes be “hidden”. We realize that it is important for the community to recognize the presence of this added service. For that reason, we are amending the program to more frequently use highly-visible, marked vehicles.
Street Lighting Program
Q: What is the purpose of the Street Light Reporting program?
A: The Street Light Program is a crime deterrent used to ensure broken or inoperable street lights are replaced or repaired. Bi-monthly surveys of street lights are provided throughout the District and follow-up contacts are made to CenterPoint Energy.
Q: Who to call, how to report?
A: Anyone can report burned out streetlights to CenterPoint Energy. They have an online form where you type in the streetlight light pole number. Report a street light outage to CenterPoint Energy.
Q: Who provides the service?
A: The District contracts with SMC Logistics. They tour the district in the evenings, on the same day, every other month to check for outages. Every streetlight pole has a number on it which is used to identify the location when reported to CenterPoint. Since inception of the program in 2013, SMC Logistics has reported 157 burned out lights which have been repaired. CenterPoint normally requires 2-3 days to replace burnt out bulbs and 2-4 weeks for damaged structures.
Q: How much does the program cost on a monthly basis, annually?
A: The Street Light Program costs approximately $2,800 per year, or less than $250 monthly.
County Attorney Program
Q: What is the purpose of the County Attorney Program?
A: The Harris County Attorney’s Office uses civil law to protect neighborhoods. In 2011 and 2012, the program was expanded through agreements with neighborhood management districts to provide additional resources in the fight to rid those neighborhoods of crime. Traditionally, combatting crime involves calls to law enforcement. In many parts of Harris County law enforcements is repeatedly called to properties that are magnets for criminal activity including gang violence, drug dealing, weapons violations, crimes against property, gambling, and prostitution. Frequent criminal activity has a negative impact on the neighborhood, the quality of life for residents, and property values. The Harris County Attorney’s Office uses civil legal action to put an end to these neighborhood nuisances. The County Attorney files civil actions aimed at requiring property owner and tenants to take steps to stop the crime on the property. Those steps may include adding security, fixing fences, adding surveillance cameras and lighting, or screening tenants for felony backgrounds. The goal of these lawsuits is to obtain an injunction from a judge ordering such steps be taken to improve the safety of the neighborhood.
Q: Is the program effective and if so, how is it measured?
A: Yes, the program is effective. There are not specific targets as it has to be fluid to allow for attacking the problems when they arise. It is not “measured” in a traditional sense, but clearly works when an illegal business has been shut down or brought into compliance by an agreement or court order.
Q: How much does the program cost the District?
A: Approximately $62,000 per year.
Q: Why doesn’t the County Attorney address needed issues? Isn’t that what we pay county taxes for?
A: Harris County, like the city, has limited resources. We fund this with other partner districts to get dedicated staff to use the nuisance abatement statutes on the books to deal with problem property owners/lessees.
Mobile Security Camera Program
Q: How does the mobile security camera program work?
A: The mobile security camera program is used to assist property owners and police in historically high crime locations. They are primarily used for crime deterrence purposes; and, secondary to allow after-the-fact investigation of crimes that may have been committed within range of the systems. The cameras are internet accessible and document suspicious/criminal activity plus serve as a visual deterrent with police rated strobe lighting.
Q: How can I get a camera?
A: Each property owner’s request for a mobile security camera is considered on a case by case basis by the Public Safety Committee (PSC). If approved, a mobile security camera will be installed for 120 days.
Q: If I request a camera, do I have to pay a fee?
A: The installation and the monthly services are paid by the District. If property owners wish to continue this service after 120 days, they may do so on a monthly basis at their own cost, working directly with the security monitor company.
Q: How much does the program cost the district monthly, annually?
A: The monthly fee is $350 per camera plus a one-time electrical cost to connect to a power source. Ideally, the property owner will see the benefits of the program and simply assume the monthly payments after 120 days. This allows the District to relocate the camera to another area.
Graffiti Abatement Program
Q: Who do I report graffiti to?
A: Graffiti can be reported to both Montrose District and the City of Houston’s 311 system. Primarily, graffiti services are provided by the District for our local businesses, but the City also responds to calls for service to public areas. To report graffiti, go the District’s website at http://montrosedistrict.org and click on the Report Graffiti link on the homepage. Dial 311 to report graffiti to the City.
Q: How quickly is graffiti removed?
A: The District prides itself in providing fast quality services. On average, a site gets cleaned up within 2 to 4 business days after receiving the request if the property owner is able to sign an affidavit grant permission to abate the graffiti. Graffiti is everyone’s problem and quick abatement of graffiti deters future vandalism so please help us by reporting it promptly.
Q: Who provides the service?
A: The service is provided by the Montrose District at no cost to property owners. The District currently contracts with Greater East End Management District for graffiti abatement.
Q: How much do the services cost the district monthly, annually?
A: Monthly $5,415 or annually $65,000.