Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood says the community has to confront its own 'moral bankruptcy' as law enforcement tries to get a handle on the spike in violent crime which has seen several people killed and wounded in shootings just in the past few days, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"I believe as a community we are morally bankrupt," LaHood told a community meeting last night on the city's east side, which has been ground zero in the gang, drug, and revenge driven violence which has turn apart families and neighborhoods.
"I believe that, morally bankrupt," LaHood. "What do I mean by 'morally bankrupt? We have to learn as a community what we accept. We don't except murder, but now we have to decide what we do about it."
LaHood said a change in attitudes is largely to blame for the recent violent crime wave, citing 'disrespect' shown to teachers in public schools.
"These teachers go through a lot, with the level of disrespect," he said. "The things we're hearing from our schools, the stuff that's happening in our schools. We might have thought about cussing out a police officer, but nobody thought about shooting at a police officer, but that has become a regular occurrance."
LaHood recounted his own family's violent history, including the brutal murder of his brother in the driveway of his home, and his own drug related arrest.
LaHood says when there is a '75% recidivism rate,' where three quarters of people who are arrested for violent crimes go back out on the streets and commit more violent crimes 'we have to have a conversation about what is going on.'
Many east side residents at the meeting asked questions about how they can safely report crimes without having police officers or sheriff's deputies appear at their homes, which might mark them out for retaliation by violent gangs.
Some mothers said the crime in their neighborhoods has gotten so bad they asked for police protection for children who are walking to school in the morning.
An emotional Police Chief William McManus stressed that this is not a problem that can be 'arrested away.'
"How many arrests do you think the police department should make to smooth things out in the city," McManus asked. "Ten thousand, would that make everything okay The Violent Crimes Task Force alone has made nearly 5,000 arrests this year, good charges, not jaywalking. And they have seized nearly a million dollars in suspected proceeds in crime. They have seized long gun after long gun after pistol, you wouldn't believe the amount of guns, money that we have seized. We cannot arrest away these problems."
And McManus said 'how are we doing on the war on drugs,' and then added 'laugh people, laugh.'
"There are conditions that exist that seem to make crime flourish," he said. "If we don't address these issues, we say the same thing after every shooting, 'this has got to stop!' Why doesn't it stop? We had a ten year old killed on Thanksgiving, because her older brother brought gang violence to the house. Where does it all stop?"
LaHood said it has to start in the schools.
"Back in the day, parents worked with their child's teachers in the best interest of the children," he said. "Today, the parents attack the teachers, they attack the schools, its nothing but disrespect. I refuse to accept this as the new normal."