The Presidents Message
As most of you know, the HPOU has tried to put a spotlight on the mental health of our department. Joe Gamaldi started out first Peer Support program with HOPA (Houston Officers Peer Assistance). Tim Whitaker has taken over the program in the last few years. The program has been working very well but we still have officers out there struggling. I have personally worked with 6 officers over the last two years who are dealing with either mental health issues or alcoholism issues or other addictions. The stressors of this job have obviously increased over the last few years with the civil unrest, the defund the police movement, the vilification of officers, and now the increased crime spikes and attacks on law enforcement.
With the stress of this job, we are seeing more
As many of you have heard, the Council unanimously approved the Meet and Confer contract with the City of Houston and the Houston Police Officers’ Union. This is very important to understand that in a time when heavy changes are coming to most police contracts, ours came away with very little regarding giving up rights after we informed the City that there were many misconceptions being spread by a few community activists. Officers questioned the 180 day rule for date of discovery versus date of incident in termination cases. This was an area that I had to rely on our attorneys for. All four of our attorneys as well as the contract attorneys we use all said that it would not have any real impact on out membership. San Antonio,
After four long months of going back and forth with the city, we now have a contract. I want to first thank all of those who made it out to vote. I am sad to say that only 1,600 of our 5,100 members voted in the ratification of the contract.
This is not unusual as we only had 1,891 vote in the last contract election. The contract did pass with a vote of 1,101 voting for and 510 voting against.
Many of you asked questions about why we do not have online voting for the contract. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that it is a labor contract, and we must be certain no one is voting for another person.
Secondly, we want officers to attend informational meetings or meet with someone who negotiated the contract before voting to make sure the officer received
Members, I know that we have all had a long couple of weeks. With Redbook closures, COVID, mandatory overtime, it is obviously not the start we wanted to a new year.
I don’t want to be a downer, but it appears that this may not end anytime soon.
Manpower and discipline are still the largest issues on the minds of our members. We work constantly to try to remedy the issues when they come into the office. Some we can fix and some we can’t.
Manpower will not be fixed for years, as it is getting harder and harder to find qualified applicants. We are continually working on the discipline issue and hope we get the department to understand that discipline is directly related to the morale of the department.
Until we fix these issues, we will continue to lose good officers.
Going into the new year, we always get excited and look forward to starting out fresh and getting things “in order”. This year was no different as we rang in the new year trying to stay positive. It can often be hard to look forward to a new year when we have so many big issues that we are facing as an organization.
First and foremost are the staffing issues that we are seeing at every station across the city. I worked New Years eve at Southeast and roll call consisted of about six people for early side and another six for late side for two districts. We were non-stop the entire night!
Our manpower issues are being exacerbated by the current Covid is spike. We had over 420 officers out as of New Year’s Day which is leading to dangerous situations on the streets. We must