In her effort to present to Harris County voters that there is probable cause to replace the incumbent district attorney for being soft on violent criminals and hard on the police officers doing their job, Mary Nan Huffman continued to cite Kim Ogg’s irresponsible leadership and low office morale in the final month of campaigning.
As the final month of campaigning took shape, Huffman added a significant number of endorsements from law enforcement associations throughout Harris County. Besides the HPOU endorsement, Huffman has picked up the formal support of the African American Police Officers League (AAPOL) and the Organization of Spanish Speaking Officers (OSSO).
Additionally, the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) and the Harris County Deputies Organization published endorsements of the Huffman candidacy. Police organizations in League City, Baytown and Deer Park officially joined the growing endorsement crowd.
Huffman, the Republican candidate endorsed by HPOU and other local law enforcement organizations, stepped up her attacks against Ogg despite the ever-present distancing and masking requirements of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is simply no evidence that Ogg has demonstrated a support and dedication to the work of Houston police officers as well as any other law enforcement officer in Harris County,” Huffman said. “We have seen unconscionable examples of her lack of respect for officers doing their jobs, putting their lives on the line to protect the citizenry.
“As a result, throughout her term there has been no examples of the necessary rapport that is needed between police officers and prosecutors – a rapport needed for successful prosecution of dangerous criminals.”
Huffman strenuously continued to emphasize her primary message to Harris County voters of all persuasions. That message:
- Holding criminals accountable by enforcing the laws of the State of Texas while administering fair punishment
- Protecting the public by supporting the efforts of law enforcement
- Being a voice for victims
- Rebuilding a broken and dysfunctional District Attorney’s Office by restoring credibility, predictability, and dependability.
She also has underscored her message to any potential criminal suspect in the county a tenant missing from Ogg’s watch: “Criminals need to know that if they commit a crime here, they’re going to be held accountable. The DA’s offices in the past have made this clear. But Kim Ogg has failed to get this message across. It is not part of her radar screen.” Huffman explained.
She is comfortable in campaign scenarios involving voters of all races and political party backgrounds. She said she has succeeded in getting kudos from Democrats who do not care for the current uncomfortable condition that has Ogg crossways with Houston police officers.
“The DA and police officers should be allies,” said Huffman, a member of the HPOU legal staff. “I’ve gotten to know many police officers. I know that nobody becomes a police officer because of the salary structure; it’s because it’s a calling and you are a public servant and you want to catch bad guys.”
She has found that the typical officer believes that he or she is “putting my life on the line because there is a cause at the end of it.”
It is catching the bad guys and seeing that they get just deserves.
“The feeling that ‘we’re in this together’” hasn’t happened with Ogg at the helm.
Huffman vows to change that if she gets elected in a down-ballot race in the Nov. 3 general election.
At various points in the virus-affected campaign, Huffman used the term “perfect storm” to describe Ogg’s lackadaisical prosecution philosophy.
“COVID-19 is being used as an excuse to release violent and repeat offenders from the jail, putting citizens in Harris County in danger,” she said.
Huffman described the dangerous winds of that perfect storm as well as the streets “flooded” with dangerous criminals out of jail on “sweetheart” deals and PR bonds roaming free. Typically, criminals are caught and released because the DA’s office will not take the charges, mandy winding up with their names on “to-be” warrants to be handled at a later date.
As for the “storm” itself, Huffman said, “It is a combination of COVID-19, the revolving door at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, sweetheart deals made by the district attorney’s office and criminals given PR bonds or very low bonds.”
As every HPD officer knows, this stormy existence blows away officers’ effectiveness on the dangerous job sites. Huffman will reverse this irresponsible trend if she is elected.
She also vowed to shoot straight with Harris County citizens instead of using “publicity stunts” like the incumbent Democrat DA.
Huffman alleged that Ogg has lost sight of “justice for all” as she continues to pull “publicity stunts” that effectively cheapen the jobs of police officers who were in harm’s way during the George Floyd demonstrations.
The challenger also took offense at Ogg’s effort to intimidate members of her prosecutorial staff in another one of her campaign appearances. Huffman said staff morale is reaching a new low because of Ogg’s intimidation of her staff.
These two examples of “so-called leadership” are not effective ways to run the office of Harris County’s leading elected law enforcement official, Huffman believes.
Huffman was still disgusted and frustrated over Ogg’s publicity-inspired maneuver to have more than 600 demonstrators – “many of whom were violent” – arrested, only to soon dismiss all the charges against them.
Huffman cited the violent acts committed against HPD personnel such as Sgt. Darren Schlosser (see his story in this issue) as an obvious example of how violent many of the protesters were.
“They weren’t peaceful,” she asserted. “Many were peaceful, but the groups of people arrested were throwing bricks, bottles of urine, feces and everything else at the officers who were trying to get them to disperse. They were not dispersing; they were obstructing roadways. Ambulances couldn’t get down the street.”
She said Ogg uses her soft touch for criminals and a hard line for police officers. There are a growing number of examples. Huffman cited several.
Ogg frequently barks up an erroneous prosecutorial tree and seldom, if ever, initiates major investigations from her own office, faulty practices that do not serve the justice system well. Huffman recently stepped up the case against Ogg by asserting that she tries to hold police officers charged with misdeeds such as excessive use of deadly force to a higher standard than the average Houston/Harris County resident.
Usually the DA uses evidence developed by HPD or other law enforcement agencies and relies on their investigations when handling cases involving officers.
Ogg’s resulting ineptitude has proven to harm the reputation of officers such as Shane Privatte, who was indicted in 2019 for excessive use of force largely since Ogg failed to present HPD’s Internal Affairs findings that cleared Privatte.
That alone, Huffman said, should be reason enough to oust Ogg from office. Yet it is but one of many reasons to support “probable cause” for Ogg’s removal.