CITY OF KATY (Covering Katy News)—The Katy Police Department is requesting that the city hire more police officers to staff a substation that will soon be opening at the Katy Mills Mall.
Ward A Council Member Frank Carroll said a public perception exists that both the mall and the nearby Typhoon Texas waterpark are not safe, and a revenue drop off—for both local businesses and the city—results from that. He cited a recent case in which police charged two suspects with aggravated robbery and organized retail theft following a robbery at a Katy mobile phone store on FM 1463 at the Katy Freeway.
The new substation is now being built inside the mall according to Chief Noe Diaz. It will be approximately 2,000 square feet and will replace the Workforce Solutions office on the east side of the building.
City Administrator Byron Hebert says that the mall had a police substation when it opened, but it closed several years ago. At the time the police department thought it could better manage operations out of its headquarters according to Hebert. Now, with advances in technology, the city feels it’s better to have officers in the mall and closer to the other businesses in the area. Hebert said he expects the substation to open in a few months. The space where it will be located is currently being renovated.
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Typhoon Texas opened near the mall in 2016. Construction is also underway on the Katy Boardwalk Project which will also be near Katy Mills. The Boardwalk Project will feature loft residences, retail, dining, entertainment, a hotel, conference center and parking.
Mall renovation efforts began last year following four years of discussions between city officials and Simon Malls of Indianapolis, which owns the mall.
“The mall has been a good partner and done everything we have asked,” Hebert said. “The mall is excited. We’re excited.”
In addition to four new officers, Diaz said two new police vehicles would be requested. The Ford Explorers cost about $30,000 before they are fully outfitted with a cage, computer, striping and other equipement.
The city’s $28.5 million budget for 2018-19 was approved last fall. It provided for the hiring of seven new officers and the purchase of four new vehicles. Finding a way to add additional officers for the substation will take some financial creativity according to council member Carroll.
“We have to arrange some numbers in the budget,” Carroll said. Hebert will have to “sharpen his pencils to make it happen,” he added.
The city’s new finance director, Andrew Vasquez, is reviewing options now according to Hebert.
Diaz does not see any benefit in keeping the same number of officers and simply reassigning some of them to the new substation. He believes that would hurt coverage of the residential areas.
Carroll agrees with the chief.
“We need additional staff for the area south of I-10,” Carroll said. “It’s a critical item.”
Diaz said hiring more officers was an urgent need, adding that Katy will soon become a college town with the development of the Houston Community College campus in Katy as well as the University of Houston-Katy campus.
“Public safety is the ‘hallmark of good local government’,” Carroll said.
The police substation at Katy Mills will complement the new fire station that just opened nearby at 25420 Bell Patna Drive.
“It’s going to be a great asset for us to have on the south side of town,” Hebert said. “With the fire station, we’ll have good public safety. We need to protect that revenue source for us, all that land in Harris County that hasn’t been developed yet, but it will be. It’s good to have a presence down there.”