As President of the organization, I get all the negative feedback from members regarding ever aspect of the department as well as the HPOU. I often get frustrated when people come in and make comments without knowing what we really do here. I recently had an officer come in and ask exactly what his dues go for every month? Believe it or not, I appreciate people coming in and asking questions, and actually take an interest in what the organization does for them. I could tell he was frustrated, and this interaction give me the opportunity to show what we actually do (and brag a little). We spoke for almost an hour, and I believe that he was satisfied with what I had to say and felt more comfortable when he left. But our conversation made me realize that we do not do a very good job talking about the good things we are doing here at YOUR union, but that is about to change…..
I never expected to be in this position, but I believe that the good Lord puts you where he wants you when he wants you there. I am blessed to be here representing the members of the Houston Police Officers’ Union and will always do so to the best of my ability. This being said, it is important to note that the HPOU does not run the Houston Police Department. Our job is to keep the leadership in check and most often this is done through arbitration or negotiation. But both are always done after a decision is made and moved on by the leadership of the department. We will always fight the battles that we are legally able to fight. I do my best to always work with the leadership of the department but there are times when we will just not agree. I have had more than one shouting match with the Chief and I am confident that there will be more. As most know, we are not paid at the union, and we volunteer to do this job, so I can’t complain about dealing with people who don’t like us for whatever reason. I know that I will never make everyone happy but I will always do what’s best for the officers, the organization, and the department.
Now back to what you get for your money from the HPOU. First is legal protection. We have four full time attorneys and 4 contract attorneys for conflict cases. (no you do not get to pick your attorney, as we have to fairly distribute the workload). You also get representation work done by me, Tim Whitaker, Ken Nealy, Tom Hayes, and our Executive Director, Ray Hunt. We often make deals that help officers with discipline, work issues, workers comp, and insurance issues. It should be noted that we have spent a lot of money to represent the Harding Street officers and the Gazin Street officers and will continue to spend whatever it takes to give them the proper representation.
In July, I went out on 4 officer involved shootings, not because I have to, but because I believe that it is important. I worked 229 hours in the Month of July to further the mission of this organization, PIP meeting, town hall meetings, wherever I can talk about what we do or what we need. I keep detailed notes on time that I work and want people to know that I do not do it for recognition, I do it because I care about my brothers and sisters here in this department. Our officers are the best in the nation, and I do my best to let everyone know it!
Other areas important to know is how we fight in Austin to kill bad bills what would affect our membership. We had no less than 20 bills this session that would have killed our ability to effectively do police work in Texas. Everything from removing qualified immunity, to making it a crime for an officer not acting against another officer who may have been accused of using excessive force on a scene. Ray worked in Austin during the entire session watching bills and meeting with legislators to stop these bad bills.
Another area beneficial to membership is the insurance arm of the organization. Most are not even aware that as a benefit of membership, they can get partial reimbursement on Dr visits and prescriptions, and everyone has a disability benefit should you be out for over a week for an accident on or off duty. As a benefit of membership, you are a member of the State and National Fraternal Order of Police, and we have your membership card here at the HPOU. Another benefit that we are pushing is the Internet Scrubbing service. We pay for that service for each of our members and if you have not done it, please come down and sign up.
I know that this is a lot of information, but I want members to know that the entire Board of Directors work hard for the membership. I have put it out that members can call me or email me anytime, as my number and email address is on the app, in the calendar, and on the website. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have question or need some clarification on rumors. Also, start looking for our weekly “rumor control” emails to be coming out soon. I want to thank each and every one of you for your hard work. Stay safe and keep up the good work!