Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Claps Back at ‘Defunding Police’ Questioning

by | Aug 19, 2022 | Houston

At a press conference on Wednesday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo clapped back at Fox 26 News Houston Reporter Greg Groogans’ questions on whether the county has adequately funded law enforcement and public safety. 

Groogan specifically questioned Hidalgo on Texas Sen. John Whitmire and the Mayoral candidate’s claim that the county is “nonsense of experimenting by defunding the police.” 

In response, Hidalgo laughed and called it a “laughable lie” and a “stunt.”

“You know why John Whitmire would say that because he’s running for office, and he’s willing to pander just like all these Trump sycophants who are willing to pander and say the election was stolen,” she said. “Just like the person running against me is willing to pander and not admit Donald Trump lost the election.”

Hidalgo faces GOP opponent Alexandra del Moral Mealer in a tight race for the position of county judge in the Nov. 8 election. 

Despite Whitmire and Harris County Attorney Kim Ogg’s quarrels, Hidalgo defended her budget decisions by saying the numbers and facts were on her side. 

“So, of course, we always want to put even more than three-quarters of the funding in law enforcement, but we run our public hospital system, we run our public libraries, roads, bridges flood control,” she said. 

At one point, Hidalgo asks Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez if there was a public safety budget increase before she took office. “No,” Gonzalez replies. 

“So let’s be intellectually honest, and I think you have a responsibility to do that,” she tells Groogan. 

Hidalgo also called Groogan’s framing and line of questioning laughable and sad. 

“I think it’s funny for a reporter to echo the word defunding when we have just stood here and shown that 65 percent of our budget goes to law enforcement,” Hidalgo said. “And that we have increased the budget more than ever before, so actually it’s not just funny, it’s sad.” 

For context, at the same time, the county launched Safe Harris, a four-year $150 million online portal focused on reducing crime in the area. Equally important, the district attorney’s office has also seen a budget increase. 

In April, the Harris County Commissioner’s court awarded the office $7.5 million to hire additional prosecutors and increase the salaries for current prosecutors on staff. 

Moreover, according to reports, the DA’s office has seen a $12 million increase in the past two years.

In the same press conference, Hidalgo said the county had seen a 4 percent decrease in homicides and a 7 percent decrease in violent crime since June 2021. 

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez also defended the sheriff’s department and said the county is making strides toward progress. 

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Gonzalez said. “We’re taking crime seriously here in Harris County, and we’re going to continue to work collaboratively and learn from what’s working and what’s not working.”

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Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.

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