Houston police officers can now issue citations instead of making arrests for Class A and B misdemeanors as the city attempts to improve response times and reduce the jail population.
A news release from the City of Houston said Mayor Sylvester Turner signed an executive order authorizing the city to join Harris County’s Cite and Release Program beginning Tuesday. The city said the program is meant as a way to help reduce the jail population for non-violent offenders as well as lessen the time officers spend with the booking process and get them back into service quickly.
“It is the equivalent of being given a second chance on the spot as long as the suspected offender meets the requirements for Cite and Release and complies with the rules,” Turner said in the news release.
Under the program, Houston police can issue tickets instead of making arrests for the following offenses:
- Possession of a controlled substance (4 ounces or less)
- Criminal mischief, if amount lost is at least $100 but less than $750
- Graffiti, if monetary damage is at least $100 but less than $2,500
- Theft, if the value of the property stolen is between $100-$749
- Theft of service, if the value of the service stolen is between $100-749
- Contraband in a correctional facility, if the offense is a Class B misdemeanor
- Driving with an invalid license
The Houston Police Department will track and report data for citations issued under the program, according to the city.
“This is not a matter of getting soft on crime,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said. “It’s about getting smart on crime.”