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HOUSTON (KIAH) –  Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, public health officials and local law enforcement announced the launch of two anti-gun violence programs.  The initiatives will include the $5 million Holistic Assistance Response Team (HART) program and the $6 million Gun Violence Interruption program. 

The HART program allows police officers to focus on violent crimes by using trained health professionals to respond to 911 calls related to homelessness, behavioral health, substance use or non-emergency health or social welfare issues.  The Gun Violence Interruption program will work with residents with a risk of gun violence, to stop ongoing conflicts with on the ground interventions by trusted messengers and connections to social programs.

“We’re building a criminal justice system that addresses the root causes of crime. A system that differentiates between violent, repeat offenders who need to be behind bars, and those who need rehabilitation. A system that engages rather than targets communities,” Hidalgo said.

These programs come after the approval of $1.4 billion dollars for public safety and justice programs in Harris County as part of the annual budget.  Judge Hidalgo says the funds will also raise salaries for deputies and overtime.