Dealing with unwanted solicitation was the domainant topic discussed at the recent Kingwood Public Safety Committee meeting.
Officers from the Houston Police Department (HPD) were asked what legally can be done about unwanted solicitors that are in the area both at intersections and knocking on the doors of homes.
At the conclusion of a routine monthly crime report, by Officer D.P. Von Quintus, discussion began.
“My (homeowner association) members asked me to bring this up and get an answer. There is a group of folks up at the intersection of Northpark and W. Lake Houston Parkway who seem to be barging around in the street interfering with traffic flow and pressing people to take some kind of handout, wearing light green shirts,” said an association member.”
“As you know, the City (of Houston) has passed certain ordinances for us. We can only focus on the impeding of traffic where they cannot be in the roadway. We have been working on that where every time we see somebody in the road, we will stop and tell them they need to leave. We will also warn them so we can cite them,” said Officer D.P. Von Quintus
HPD Officer Amanda Rodriguez explained they were getting the word out to all patrol officers to be sure to get the warnings they issue into the HPD system so officers can start writing actual tickets the next time these people are seen impeding traffic. Von Quintus pointed out the tickets carry a financial penalty and also require a court appearance. He explained if the ticketed person fails to appear or pay the fine, they can be arrested.\
“Usually if we give them a ticket, they don’t come back,” Rodriguez said,
Von Quintus added, “I just want to make clear, we cannot arrest in a situation like that. Now, if they open the window and punch you in the face, we are going to arrest them.”
Denise Krieger of Bear Branch raised another issue of unwanted solicitation.
She asked, “Door to door solicitation?” She explained she thought some were simply casing the homes for future criminal activity knocking on all doors on the block, determining who was home and when and other information. She asked if area homeowner associations could file a Trespass Affidavit or its equivalent on behalf of their homeowners for the villages they represent and then have HPD enforce trespass violations against solicitors in the specified area.
Von Quintus explained that the homeowner association could not but each homeowner could do so for their individual homes as their private property.
Regarding what HPD could do regarding routine complaints about solicitors Rodriquez said, “They are going to be out there. It is really hard for us to really do much but we can go up and talk to them.”
The best way to make complaints to the HPD in these type situations is this.
“You can always call us out. Don’t say they are solicitors. The word you need to use is ‘Suspicious Person’ It is a suspicious person who is soliciting so we can go check out the suspicious person. We are not getting a soliciting call; we are getting a suspicious person call. If a guy has an orange shirt on (like a prison shirt), that is a suspicious person. Call it in that way,” Sgt. James Paqvlu said.
Krieger said, “Good. That is what we need to do; inform and educate our residents that instead of saying door to door salesman to say they have a suspicious person.”
Pavlu said, “Yes, you don’t know what he is doing. He may say what he is doing but his activity is suspicious.”
In other business, Dee Price of Sand Point distributed the proposed 2018 budget to members and will send it to all Kingwood Homeowner Associations for review. She pointed out it is unchanged from last year and asked all members to provide input for any proposed changes. The committee will vote to approve it in September and submit it to the KSA Board of Directors for the required Board of Directors approval in its quarterly meeting in October.
The next KSA Public Safety Committee Meeting will be Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m., at the South Woodland Hills Community Room, 2038 Shadow Rock.