Police presence welcome at Astrodome, other shelters

9-5-05 - Linda Jeffers' only belonging besides her clothes is a small black purse which contains her entire identity now that she's lost everything to Hurricane Katrina.

As Jeffers makes her way through crowds of people she doesn't know at Houston's Astrodome, where she and thousands of others have found shelter, she tucks the purse securely beneath her arm. If she decides to sleep among the crowds, her purse becomes her pillow.

"There are things missing from around here," she said. "They are kind-of borrowing a lot of things. I don't want to say stealing."

But that's what Houston police and a variety of other police agencies securing shelters around Texas want to prevent. Officers are placed throughout the dome to have high visibility in an effort to thwart opportunists, said Houston Police Assistant Chief Brian Lumpkin.

"There is always going to be a small percentage that are undesirables or sociopaths and don't want to get along, want to commit crimes," Lumpkin said. "We are going to address those as quickly as they come to our attention. We have got a lot of officers out here who find great joy in putting the bad guys in jail."

Jeffers, 55, is pleased with the police presence. She said three months ago she wouldn't have felt safe in the shelter, but Katrina changed her mind.


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