It has been a very busy couple of weeks here at the HPOU. We, like most of you, were surprised at the announcement that Chief Acevedo was taking the chiefs job in Miami.
With the quick announcement came a lot of questions and speculation. I have spoken with Chief Acevedo and he told me that this was a move that he did not expect, but after being offered the job and speaking with his wife felt that it would be good for the family.
I want to thank Chief Acevedo for his dedication to the City of Houston and its citizens. I know we did not always agree on issues or decisions, but I have a lot of respect for him as an individual and how he was never afraid to address tough issues.
Now for the next chapter of the Houston Police Department under our new chief, Troy Finner.
I first met Chief Finner about 12 years ago while working on the Administrative Discipline Committee. He was a great advocate for working officers back then and I am sure he will continue to be. I look forward to working with Chief Finner and know that he has a passion for this department and the community.
The Austin Battleground
On another note, there are several battles right now in Austin and much of the conflict revolves around police reform. Sadly, most of the people in the battles do not understand qualified immunity. But that is not stopping them from attacking it and trying to strip our rights away.
There are seven separate reform bills dealing with removing qualified immunity for our officers. The one with the most traction is the George Floyd Act, HB 88, which has several different components that would have tragic effects on law enforcement. Other areas of concern in this bill include removing all arrests for Class C offenses, changing the reasonableness standard for use of force, further restricting deadly force, duty to respond, and a host of other changes to 143.
We registered our opposition to this bill and are working with the Texas Municipal Police Association, the Dallas Police Association and several others to battle these reform bills. I am confident that at the end of the session, the members of the HPOU will still have qualified immunity!
In the Legislature we also opposed the firefighters’ bill which would allow for an independent arbitrator to determine benefits for Houston firefighters after 61 days of being unable to reach an agreement on a contract.
As most of you know, Houston Fire Local 341 has turned down four percent under Mayor Parker, 9.5 percent and 13.5 percent and a mediated offer of $307 million under Mayor Turner, the last three without even a vote of the membership.
We know that these offers were real as we were in the room for the 307 million dollar offer. These rejections were all in an attempt to get Proposition B, which would give them the same pay as police officers without giving anything up as we have over the years.
Many will say this is not our fight, but I disagree. We did not want to be involved in this battle but Local 341 pulled us in because of their inability get collective bargaining. Now I will do whatever needs to be done to protect our bargaining rights and the future of our department.
Should Prop B pass, or an arbitrator give firefighters a 20 percent raise, then we would have to close the Academy, and more than likely see a force reduction (layoffs).
We are operating with 300 fewer officers than HPD had in 1998, but I am sure that Local 341 would not care what happens to our members.
But I do! That’s why we’re fighting this battle and the Floyd battle for you in Austin!