April 2012 Cohen Connection

Apr. 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

A Note from Ellen

My first few months in office have been both challenging and productive. In addition to responding to over 1,000 constituent requests, we have been focusing on a number of critical items, including several that have come through the Public Safety Committee. As Vice Chair of that committee, I’d like to update you on those issues.

Council recently approved plans to open a Sobering Center. Millions of dollars are spent every year incarcerating intoxicated individuals which diverts law enforcement personnel and public safety resources. The Sobering Center is a way to manage these cases while ensuring the safety of the individual and the general public. Currently, intoxicated individuals are jailed. The Sobering Center would provide an alternative in which non-violent individuals are monitored and given time to sober up. Not only will the Sobering Center free up jail space and allow law enforcement to deal with more dangerous offenders, it will also provide a point of intervention and access to resources for outpatient treatment of alcohol and substance abuse. The Center will be operated by a Local Government Corporation. HPD, HFD, and Health & Human Services will provide city services and Star of Hope will provide referral and counseling services. The Sobering Center is the most efficient and compassionate way to deal with the cases and it will lead to a safer city for all Houstonians.

The Public Safety Committee is also studying the proposed Forensic Center. HPD has long been plagued with crime lab issues. Currently, the crime lab reports to the Chief of Police, who reports to City Council. The new Forensic Center would be operated by an independent board of directors. This allows for true impartiality and prevents persuasion from those who might have an incentive to attempt influence, including law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and elected officials. I believe a truly independent crime lab is needed.

Houston Infrastructure on Agenda at CIP meeting

The Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Town Hall Meeting was held at the West Gray Metropolitan Multi-Services Center. Over 200 constituents were briefed on proposed infrastructure improvements and were given an opportunity to provide feedback on which high-priority projects in their neighborhood. Learn More »

Ashby Highrise Settlement

Nearly 400 residents took part in the recent Ashby Highrise town hall meeting. Watch the Video »

Sunflower County, Mississippi Comes to Houston

It was a thrill for the District C office to host youngsters from the Sunflower County Freedom Project during their visit to City Hall. The Project offers academic enrichment for children living in the Mississippi Delta region. One of the Project’s founders is Shawn Raymond, the immediate past president of the Houston Area Women’s Center and Susman Godfrey partner.   View Photo Gallery »