Viet Tran, a deputy with Precinct 2 Constable Jerry Garcia, is one of the officers who works under contract with the Hobby Area District and specializes in community outreach.

Hes also a noodle connoisseur with a long list of favorite restaurants in the area.

He sat down for a question and answer session about the long-term strategies that the constables office and other law enforcement agencies are using to help reduce crime in the District.

Q: I understand a big part of your job is talking with people about the crime and looking for ways to be proactive against it, right?

A: Yes, I do lot of citizen contact and meeting with business owners. Ill go into a business and meet with the manager and just ask, What do you need? What do you see as the problem? What crimes are you concerned with?”

For example, if they say they see a lot of shoplifting at a certain time of day, Ill pass the word on to deputies on that shift and ask them to stop in a lot so theres a police presence, which will deter shoplifting. We can prevent a lot of it just by communicating with each other about whats going on. Of course, businesses should report all crimes so that we can be more proactive. They can even remain anonymous.

Q: Im sure that helps when you have owners and managers who can partner with you on reducing crime where they are. What do you do when there is illegal activity on the street or with homeless people, where theres no owner or manager to coordinate with?

A: In the areas where we see street crime, like prostitution, we patrol a lot to deter the customers from showing up. When the customers stop coming by, there are fewer drugs on the street and less crime, like carjacking.

Also, I meet with prostitutes and talk to them about the dangers of that life. As soon as I start my shift, I go straight out to where they are.  I talk to them about HIV and sexual transmitted diseases. And I tell them, we don’t want to take you to jail, we want to help you, the same as with the homeless population.

We have a homeless outreach team, and I explain that we can help. We can help you get a house or an apartment and food or even just an ID, if that will help.

Q: And there is financial help available for them, right?

A: Yes. And you know, we find out a lot of them are veterans, and there are funds and resources available from the government, but they don’t know how to get it because theyre living on the street. The VA (Veterans Administration) has a fund for them.

Q: It sounds like a big job in addition to being a patrol officer. How long have you been a police officer?

A: I graduated from the police academy in 2010 and then went to Precinct 6 Constables Office. When Jerry Garcia got elected last year, I applied to work in Precinct 2 and Ive been here for a few months. So, Ive got more than 10 years under my belt.

Q: I understand your first language is Vietnamese and that you have deep ties to the area. Tell me about that.

A: We came to the United States when I was 10, both my parents and me and my sister. My uncle has been in Houston since 1975. Hes actually lived at the same place on Broadway since he got here, just on the other side of the Gulf Freeway. Now Im married and raising a family here in Houston. My wife and I have a seven-month-old named Chloe!

The Hobby District is great because theres a small Vietnamese community with a lot of great people. A lot of them dont speak English, so I go talk to them about whats going on and sometimes end up helping them with paperwork or something else that just needs to be translated.

Q: Thank you for your time. Finally, as someone who spends most of his days in the Hobby Area District, what are some of your favorite places to eat?

A: I love the fried chicken and fried rice at Bellaire Café #2, right there in the Hong Kong Market Shopping Center (at 9820 Gulf Freeway). They have a lot of good dishes. Its right next to the Pho Hai, which is a great noodle restaurant. I eat a lot of noodles. I also love the quesadillas at Tostada Regia Park Place (8024 Park Place Blvd).


— by Brian Rogers