Texas Round Up: What’s Happenin Around Texas?

COVER11Austin-DWI arrests continue to rise in Austin and the city’s police chief doesn’t think enough offenders are convicted of the crime. “Life is about accountability,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “It’s about paying the price for making a poor choice.” DWI arrests in Travis County are up nearly 24 percent over the past three years, and news reports discovered more than a third of cases did not receive DWI convictions. According to records provided by the Travis County Attorney’s office, 37 percent of all first time DWI cases are re-filed as other charges, like obstruction, received deferred prosecution or a dismissal.

Austin – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens made 58 boating under the influence arrests and contacted some 30,000 recreational boaters over the July Fourth weekend. Earlier, TPWD’s Law Enforcement division participated in Operation Dry Water June 27-29 as part of a nationally coordinated boating under the influence (BUI) awareness and enforcement campaign. Game wardens continued their enhanced patrol efforts through the holiday as boaters enjoyed area waterways. Over the three-day Operation Dry Water weekend, game wardens made contact with 22,732 recreational boaters, issued 1,147 citations and safety warnings and made 17 BUI arrests in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. During the July Fourth holiday, game wardens made contact with roughly 30,000 recreational boaters and arrested 58 operators for boating under the influence. In addition, game wardens filed 39 minor in possession of alcohol cases and 8 drug related offenses.

Nationally, more than 550 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies from all 50 states and 6 U.S. territories participated in the 2014 Operation Dry Water effort. National results are still being collected and compiled, but in 2013, nationwide 6,219 law enforcement officers from 513 agencies and US Coast Guard units participated in Operation Dry Water. Officers made contact with 144,044 boaters, issues 17,159 citations and safety warning, and made 290 arrests for boating under the influence.

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths. Since 2009, the year Operation Dry Water launched, there has been a 37 percent drop in the number of boater deaths where alcohol use was the known contributing factor, according to the 2013 U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics. –

Dallas – Hoping to prepare for the 35,000 plus expected to attend his annual Back to School Fair, Mayor Mike Rawlings kicked off the event’s first pre-registration drive on Tuesday.

Rawlings spoke in front of students and staff at the John F. Kennedy Learning Center in East Dallas. The Aug. 1 event in Fair Park, in its 18th year, provides low-income families with school supplies, medical examinations and a festive family environment.

Fort Worth - Catholic Charities Fort Worth is trying to enlist more volunteers to help with the International Foster Care program. It involves about 39 hours of training. Also, the Creating Hope Donation Center at Catholic Charities Fort Worth also is serving the needs of those in the Unaccompanied Alien Children program. The center is accepting boxes of hygiene products such as toothbrushes, hairbrushes and deodorant. The center is also asking for activity items like puzzles, playing cards, Bibles and math flashcards. The center is at 249 Thornhill Drive in Fort Worth and is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Thursday. For more information, contact Ruth Brasier at 817-289-0461 or rbrasier@ccdofw.org.

Houston – Public meetings to discuss the draft plan for redrawing the boundaries of the nine districts used to elect Houston Independent School District trustees are continuing. The public is invited to share their input on the preliminary redistricting plan at community meetings throughout the city. As a result of the annexation of North Forest ISD in 2013, all trustee districts must be realigned to include the newly annexed area and distribute population evenly throughout HISD. Meetings will be held at the following locations and times: Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center (4400 West 18th Street, 77092) July 10 at 6:30 — Austin High School (1700 Dumble St, 77023) July 15 at 6:30. The Board of Education is expected to adopt the final redistricting map in August.

Houston – Police Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr. met with a group of HPD student interns for an open discussion on decision-making, achieving goals and following HPD’s core values of Honor, Integrity and Respect.The young men and women are part of the HPD Volunteer Initiatives Program (VIP) Student Internship.  Chief McClelland spoke with the teens about a variety of topics including determination, work ethic and the meaning of a challenge coin he distributed to every HPD employee. The student internship program provides qualified students with course credit and practical work experience that compliments their academic course work.  It provides HPD an opportunity to involve students in various aspects of police work and provides students with an opportunity to integrate theory and practice.

Students from participating institutions may perform a one or two-term internship.  Criminal Justice students may perform their internships at various locations/divisions throughout the police department.  Social Work students may perform their internships under the Family Violence Unit, Homicide Division, Victim Services Unit, Planning and Research Office, or the Special Victims Division. To become an intern at HPD, a student must complete and successfully pass the VIP Application Process.

Houston – Mayor Annise Parker has launched a campaign to raise funds to fight the opposition to the equal rights ordinance. According to Parker, more than 80 current and former elected officials, community organizations and nonprofit groups have endorsed HERO. It had the backing of the Greater Houston Partnership, the NAACP, Rice University and the Houston Association of Realtors. She is calling on supporters to defend the Equal Rights Ordinance and make sure that Houston stays a place where everyone can work hard, provide for our families and give our kids the opportunity for a better life.

Missouri City - Rodney Griffin of Missouri City was reelected, State Democratic Executive Committeeman at the Texas Democratic Convention, Saturday June 28. The two -year  term is Griffin’s seventh term at the helm of senatorial district 13.Senatorial District 13 comprises of over an  eight hundred thousand African American majority in Fort Bend and Harris Counties. Griffin said, “since my return in ‘12, the state house has reclaimed eight seats eliminating the Republican super majority (2) state Party staff increased from 4 to over 40 (3) state Party received funds from every state.” Griffin said also, “Secondly, I helped shepherd through a strong criminal justice Party plank addressing the injustices in the present criminal justice system.” Griffin indicated his satisfaction in the election of local Fredericka Phillips for Vice Chair of The Texas Democratic Party. “She is a welcomed addition to the Party leadership. She is a team player – what we need for turning the state blue,” said. Griffin. Griffin was a White House Guest and NBC interviewee at the 50th Anniversary Civil Rights Summit.

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