Korean Americans are taught from an early age not to trust “law men,” said Paul Yoon Killey, president of the Korean American Society of Houston. That’s why the public safety meeting at the new Korean Community Center in Spring Branch was scheduled to address concerns specific to the Asian community, said Executive Assistant Chief K.A. Munden of the Houston Police Department (HPD).
“Historically, there has been reticence in the Asian community to report crime to the police,” Munden said. “We hope that’s changing and that the community feels the police are worthy of your trust.”
“Crime is something everyone is concerned about, “ said Victor Song, president of the Korean Chamber of Commerce, an organization that helped with the translation of safety and crime prevention brochures and other documents last year.
“We are part of the community. HPD was created by the community and we exist to serve the community,” said HPD Assistant Chief John Chen of the Westside Command. He added that the Houston Asian Community Crime Advisory Board (HACCAB) was created four years ago specifically to address the needs of the Asian community, bringing together law enforcement agencies from all over Houston, including the FBI, HPD, and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s not about separate law enforcement agencies – county or city. It’s about working together.”
— HPD Asst. Chief John Chen, Westside Command
“We can fight crime, but we can’t get rid of it,” Chen said. “It’s about not being a victim and not presenting an opportunity for a criminal to make you a victim. You have to take responsibility and not put yourself in a risky situation. You are part of the solution, not just the police department.”
Law enforcement officers answered specific questions from the audience, such as how to deal with a rash of burglaries at Asian-owned beauty supply shops targeted for expensive hair extensions.
Former State Representative and Houston City Council member Martha Wong asked why some 911 calls from the Asian community are filtered through a call center in Los Angeles, creating a delay in response time, when 8% of the city’s population is now Asian. Current City Council Members Stephen C. Costello, At Large Pos. 1, and Helena Brown, District A, said they would consider the question.
Other dignitaries in attendance were David Hawes, executive director of the Spring Branch Management District; Victor Alvarez of the District’s board of directors; Gigi Lee of the HACCAB board of directors; and veterans of the Korean War and Viet Nam War.