Juvenile Probation Takes On Child Trafficking in Houston

Imagens Evangélicas
On September 4th, the Harris County Sheriff's Office gave the Juvenile Probation Department a check for $300,000 in an effort to help victims of child trafficking. Houston is often called a hub for trafficking victims, both domestic and international, but to no one's surprise, these numbers are far more complicated, and so are the victims' experiences.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 20% of nationwide child trafficking victims come through Houston alone and consistently, year after year, more than 30% of the calls received by the National Trafficking Resource Center hotline come from Texas. But according to Edward Chapuseaux, an investigator for and founder of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (sheriff's office) task force, these statistics aren't an incredibly accurate assessment of the trafficking problem here.

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Sheriff Unwittingly Rehires Investigator Forced Out by DA's Office

Categories: Courts, Crime

Failure to communicate, indeed...
The curious case of Ruben Carrizal -- the investigator forced out of the Harris County District Attorney's Affice for misconduct only to be rehired by the sheriff's office three days later -- just didn't seem right to us when we first saw KPRC's report earlier this week. We just didn't understand how failing to get a judge's signature on a search warrant on a murder case, executing that search warrant, and then tampering with the search warrant to make it look legit wasn't enough to keep Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia from re-hiring someone as a homicide investigator.

Turns out what we've got here is a failure to communicate. According to sheriff's officials, the Harris County District Attorney's Office never told them about allegations against Carrizal before they re-hired him days after the DA's office let him resign in lieu of firing him over him backdating a search warrant.

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Five Reasons to Give HPD Funding for Body Cameras

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland is asking City Hall for $8 million to equip 3,500 police officers over three years in order to arm HPD officers with small body cameras in a bid toward police transparency.

The push for department-wide body cameras is an expansion on a pilot program that began last year, in which 100 HPD officers were fitted with the devices during the test run. The so-called body cameras clip to the front of officers' uniform shirts and are capable of recording both video and audio of police encounters while on duty.

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Sgt. Harris's Other Unsolved Murder Case

Categories: Crime

HPD won't stand for failure to investigate homicides. Oh, wait....
When disgraced ex-HPD detective Ryan Chandler began arbitration hearings last week to try to get his job back, he got an earful from his former colleague: veteran homicide detective Brian Harris, who testified that Chandler was wrong to blame his shoddy work on an unmanageable caseload.

Chandler was fired in April after an internal HPD investigation revealed that he had failed to properly investigate more than 20 cases. According to the Chron, Harris said Chandler had no excuse -- homicide investigators' caseloads were "very manageable." Harris said Chandler didn't follow leads, and bemoaned one case with a good suspect who was never arrested. That left us wondering why, then, Harris hasn't made an arrest in the 18 months he's supposedly investigated the murder of beer distributor Ash Rowell.

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85-Year-Old Woman, a.k.a. "No Soul," Pleads Guilty to Ordering Hit on Prosecutors

Dorothy Clark Canfield might look like your grandmother, but in lockup she had an ominous nickname: "No Soul."

Canfield, 85, apparently picked up the moniker after being jailed in Montgomery County in 2012 on charges that she swindled undocumented immigrants out of $100,000 after posing as an immigration attorney. It was while she was in jail for that felony theft charge that she hatched a darker plan, according to authorities.

Two of Canfield's former cellmates testified Thursday in a Montgomery County court that Canfield asked them to help her "knock off" Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Rob Freyer, who was handling her theft case, according to a report in the Chron.

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Texas DPS Launches App for Tracking Sex Offenders, Most Wanted and Human Trafficking

Categories: Crime, Tech

Find sex offenders near you.
When it comes to apps, I have a great appreciation for simplicity. Often, the most powerful ones are also the easiest to use and understand. If I need to be an engineer to find what I need when I tap an icon on my phone, chances are that app won't remain on my phone for long. After all, this is a tiny screen throwing a mountain of data at you all at once. It better get it right, and quickly.

Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised when I took a peek at the Texas Department of Public Safety's new app designed primarily for tracking sex offenders, most wanted criminals and human trafficking operations. Rather than trying to do everything, the Texas DPS app focuses in on these specific initiatives and, as a result, is extremely effective, albeit a tad on the uncomfortable side. No one really wants to know -- do they? -- that the guy down the street was once busted for public indecency, but if they are going to have that list, I suppose an app that makes those individual easier to find is a good thing.

So, naturally efore doing anything else, I immediately called up the sex offender registry and tapped the "near me" icon. On the map were color-coded pins where sex offenders were registered ranked by risk: none, low, medium and high. Tap an icon and get detailed information and photos about the offender. It was quick, easy and informative. Fortunately, there was only one guy in my neighborhood, a gentleman who had served a few years for having sex with a 15-year-old when he was 20. Now, around the Houston Press offices on the south side of downtown...well, let's just say I would recommend people remain indoors.

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Police Chief: Officer Didn't Abandon Dog That Died

Categories: Crime

Courtesy Josie Garcia
We don't want to spoil the ending, but apparently the wrecker driver did it!
A Houston police officer did not leave a dog to die after an arrest, as the dog's owner claimed, Chief Charles McClelland announced last week.

Josie Garcia had accused the officer, who'd arrested her husband and a passenger for possession of a controlled substance July 13, of allowing the couple's nearly blind, elderly chihuahua to remain on the side of the road, rather than let a family friend pick him up.

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Déjà Vu at the Montgomery County Jail

Categories: Crime

Montgomery County Sheriff's Office
Those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. As Montgomery County officials consider spending $200 million on expanding their jail, let's hope they keep the old maxim in mind.

Capt. David Moore, Montgomery County's jail administrator, says he struggles every week to keep the jail's inmate count below its 1,253-bed capacity. In recent months, he says, he's had to ship dozens of inmates off to jails in neighboring counties. The lockup is only one of five in the state currently rated as being "at risk" for overcrowding by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

County officials project that in 20, years they'll need space for at least 1,000 more inmates than they currently have room for. So last week Montgomery County commissioners began considering proposals to greatly expand the jail or build a new one.

If this all sounds familiar, it should.

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DA Candidates on Weed: Talking Points Over Data Points

Thumbnail image for Marijuana.jpg
Photo by United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Wikimedia Commons

Though marijuana possession remains a jailable crime in Harris County, the law of the land is shifting toward leniency for offenders. Both contenders in the November race for Harris County District Attorney have presented alternatives to convicting those caught with pot.

DA incumbent Devon Anderson and challenger Kim Ogg agree that the old ways need to change, but they clash on how much. The confusion likely stems from the fact neither candidate has the numbers to back her plan. One lacks a cost-savings analysis, and the other has provided practically useless estimates.

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HPD Confirms Identity, Investigation Into Officer Who Committed Suicide

Categories: Crime

The Houston Police Department has identified the officer who shot and killed himself on Tuesday as Senior Police Officer Rudolph Farias, a 21-year veteran of the force.

Farias joined HPD in May 1993 and worked in the department's traffic enforcement division. He was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a parking garage behind the HPD jail near downtown, according to authorities.

Officers spotted Farias's emergency lights flashing in the parking garage at about 4 p.m., and checked inside his HPD patrol car. According to authorities, Farias was slumped over, still dressed in his patrol uniform.

Farias was let go from HPD late Tuesday afternoon as the result of a ticket-rigging scheme involving three other officers, KHOU reports.

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