Montrose opened this cop’s eyes to gay people

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More than 20 years ago, this Houston Police Department officer came to Montrose along with a new substation aiming to squash rampant crime. He helped change the gayborhood, but it changed him too.

Since graduating the police academy at the dawn of the ‘90s, Victor Beserra has never worked anywhere except HPD’s Montrose Substation. Back then, the mean streets were much meaner, and Beserra was green to the ways of the gays, he tells the Montrose District association of neighbors.

I was 22 years old when they put me out here. I had never seen a gay person before; rather, I didn’t think I had seen a gay person before. They tried to train us: Different officers from each area of Houston came to the police academy to talk to us about their neighborhoods. Basically what I got from that class was, just show people respect.

Being gay was not accepted 20 years ago. You’d ask a street person: Can you contact your family to get off the street? Family, to me, is everything. They’d say, no, I can’t do that. Because they were gay, their family didn’t want them. It was pretty normal for us to see that several times a week.

One thing I have learned: If I ever found out my son or daughter was gay, I would never do that to them. I cannot imagine doing that to my children.

Along with tips on staying safe and reducing crime, Baserra shares that he has seen a lot of change since then, though he still sees room for improvement. Homeless LGBT teens and prostitution remain very real issues, though arrests are fewer after a years-long crackdown on johns.

Still, everything is relative, and today’s Montrose is markedly better than the Montrose of the late 1980s and early ‘90s. Baserra even moved to the area from Katy nine years ago. He says he feels safe here.

Moving here made me care more about the area. I think I started working harder. When it’s yours, when it’s your neighborhood, you’re more invested. …

Car break-ins are among our biggest issues because we have so many visitors to the neighborhood, but they’re down. I compared statistics from October, November, and December of 2014 to the same period in 2013, and car break-ins were down 38 percent.

Years ago we had robberies, assaults – no one even talked about car break-ins. Now, if we do have a robbery, it’s a big issue. That’s what we want. Ten years ago when we had a robbery in Montrose, people didn’t care. It was just another robbery.

Photo by for Montrose District


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