A panel of four local law enforcement officers answered questions from residents at the Alief Super Neighborhood public safety meeting May 22 at Killough Middle School.

Lt. Ed Barber of the Houston Police Department, Chief Dan Turner of Alief ISD, Major Mike Wong and Deputy Kim Malveaux of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office addressed questions on a variety of topics, including burglaries, panhandlers, graffiti, massage parlors, prostitution, illegally parked 18-wheelers, and curfews for teenagers.

The panel discussion was moderated by Brian Burks, director of services for the International Management District, which sponsored the event along with the Alief Super Neighborhood Council #25.

“The best thing you can do to deter panhandlers is stop giving them money,” said Barber. “You know you have a generous neighborhood if they’re still here.”

Barber added that the Westside Division has an officer whose sole job is to handle panhandling, which is a Class C misdemeanor offense.

Burglaries across the city have decreased by 11 percent, Barber added, giving credit to a recent initiative by HPD to target residential burglaries.

“Anything you can do to make your house harder to get into–alarms, deadbolts, etc.–that will help,” he added. Barber also addressed questions related to prostitution, massage parlors and other suspected illegal businesses, but added that he could not elaborate on some ongoing undercover operations in those areas.

Turner responds to gang activity and crime with school campuses.

“If you commit a crime in our schools, you’re going to get arrested,” he said. “My duties are to make sure the staff and administrators have the help they need to keep our campuses safe. Kids need to leave gang attire and any other motivations besides studying outside the school doors.”

Curfews for children under 17 are in effect from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. during the school week, and from midnight to 6 a.m., Turner said.

Wong explained that the sheriff’s office has jurisdiction over the entire county, but concentrates heavily on the unincorporated areas. He also stressed that there is significant collaboration between law enforcement agencies and that deputies frequently assist HPD when requested.