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Crime and Safety

The Issues:

An area of Sunnyside was recently ranked as the second most dangerous neighborhood in the nation, up from sixth in 2013. The neighborhood's crime rate is nearly triple that of the city of Houston. Crime prevention is minimal, as Sunnyside residents, on average, must wait well over an hour for a police officer to respond to their call. 


Traditional crime control methods are not working in Sunnyside. Houston’s policing strategies have resulted in extremely high numbers of Sunnyside residents being incarcerated. The 77051 ZIP code in Sunnyside has the the second highest rate of incarceration in Houston.


  • For every 1,000 adults in 77051, 33 go to prison every year.

  • Harris County's overall admission rate is just 5.75 prisoners per 1,000 adults.

  • 77051 also sees about 34 prisoners for every 1,000 adults released back into the community every year, the highest number in Houston.


However, there is no satisfactory support system for ex-offenders in Sunnyside. Given the rate of returning prisoners, the neighborhood needs support services to address substance abuse and mental health problems, access to jobs, education and home stability in order to reduce the chance of recidivism.


Current anti-crime approaches and treatment of ex-offenders fail to adequately leverage the power of the Sunnyside community to prevent residents from resorting to crime. There must be a more positive, proactive dialogue between law enforcement, community members and those engaging in crime. 

Sunnyside's Vision: Sunnyside will be a place where residents feel safe due to a responsive police presence, a focus on violence prevention, and a local culture that cultivates respect and support for its citizens and thereby maintains a low rate of crime. 


1. Improved police response and protection to enhance witnesses’ willingness to report crime
2. Foster a more trusting police-community relationship
3. Emphasize violence prevention, rather than reactionary approaches

4. Support the successful reintegration of a person's returning from prison into the community

Action Plan

How can the City of Houston, the Houston Police Department, HISD, civic associations, businesses, churches, residents and others help achieve Sunnyside's goals?


  • Ensure residents feel safe to report crime and provide witness statements.

  • Assess existing youth law enforcement programs and national best practices for youth and police programs.

  • Establish a community policing model in Sunnyside.

  • Implement a pathways program for youth and young adults from high-crime neighborhoods to work in local law enforcement.

  • Establish Sunnyside as a laboratory for alternative community crime and violence prevention techniques.

  • Improve educational attainment, employment and community involvement among youth and formerly incarcerated.

  • Break the school-to-prison pipeline.

  • Monitor and enhance programming of group homes and other institutions that could help rehabilitate ex-offenders.

  • Perform crime and safety prevention seminars at least quarterly.

  • Expand cite-and-release program to all victimless marijuana possessions less than 2 ounces regardless of criminal history.

  • Prioritize prisoner re-entry services in neighborhoods that receive the most released prisoners, such as Sunnyside.

  • Amend public housing occupancy and admissions standards related to criminal backgrounds and support changes at a federal level to provide ex-offenders with government housing.


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