As we have seen over the last few months, the function of law enforcement has greatly changed. The new buzz word is “reimagining” law enforcement. There are many in the vocal minority of all races that want police agencies to be defunded or the budgets of police departments to be diverted to social programs. Houston activists are calling for more accountability in the Houston Police Department and a decrease in our budget. We are not afraid of accountability and transparency, but HPD cannot have any decrease in our budget when we are already 1,500 officers short. Locally, Mayor Sylvester Turner has funded us completely and has approved five more classes for this fiscal year. No other mayor in the US has continued to do what our mayor has done for this department. Mayor Turner has continued to support our mission of increasing officers in the Houston Police Department. There are activists that are going to make a run at our contract and discipline provisions. They want to erode the protections afforded to us under the Texas Local Government Code 143. There will be a fight here in Houston like it was in Austin. There is a false narrative out there that our contract far exceeds the protections provided under section 143, but that is not the case.
We are preparing for the upcoming battle here and in Austin beginning in January. One that will be hard fought and will cost a ton of money. If you are not giving to PAC, please consider doing so. I know there are times some may disagree on who we support, but we have to do what is best for the goals of our ORGANIZATION and not what is politically favorable for each individual member. Remember, this is our job: Support officers through competitive pay and benefits and protect the rights of each and every officer.
I know it is a difficult time right now for our department. Morale is lower than I have ever seen it and justifiably so. We have a DA and county judges allowing criminals to go back into society without proper and lawful punishment. We are being vilified by the media without the full support of our chief. The department has failed us. They don’t have our backs when we respond the way in which we were trained. I am still dumbfounded at the way the chief responded to the officers and sergeant in the Gazin Street shooting. HPOU will not back down or stop fighting for these officers. We will do everything we can to support these officers while they prepare for arbitration, and we look forward to the hearing.
I used to come to work believing that if we followed policy and acted within our training we would be backed and supported by our chief. Lately, that has not been the case. We need clear direction from the department and our chief so that when we put on our uniform, we aren’t running blind. We need to be trained based on clear standards and protocol from the department so we can confidently take action in each situation. More than ever we must come together and support each other. We all want to go home to our families safely each day. But we need to work together to get there.
As politics go, we must consider what we do and how we do it as if the rules can change at any time. I ask each one of you to please be careful, especially our proactive units. Do not be the next political pawn.