Lt. Julie Pleasant honored as one of city’s most influential women

Lt. Julie Pleasant

Editor’s Note: Ms. Murray, division manager of HPD Community Affairs, nominated Lt. Julie Pleasant to be one of Houston Woman Magazine’s 2020-21 Women of Influence. Her successful nomination is manifested in the following biography she wrote about Lt. Pleasant.

Sixth generation Texan Julie Pleasant grew up hearing stories of adventure and the search for justice from generations of men in her family. Her great-great-grandfather had worn the badge, as did both of her grandfathers, her own father, two uncles and a cousin.

She was determined from a very young age to break into that brotherhood and do her part to seek justice for those who were wronged.

In 1997, she entered the Houston Police Academy and was a probationary officer patrolling west Houston six months later.

She spent the next five years in patrol and the tactical unit with the Northeast Division. She returned to the Academy for six years, training in-service personnel and helping to craft a scheduling miracle so seven cadet classes – and one lateral class for cadets with previous policing experience – could fit in a building that usually graduates just five in a year.

Over the next three years, then Senior Police Officer Pleasant worked in the Criminal Intelligence Division to develop and manage the Department’s critical infrastructure program.

She promoted to sergeant and returned to patrol operations at the Central Division as a supervisor before transferring to Emergency Communications. A year later, she joined the Criminal Investigations Command where an assistant chief tasked her with managing U-VISA applications under a program established by Congress to incentivize immigrant victims to overcome fear of deportation and help law enforcement investigate violent crimes. She would soon realize this was just the beginning of her advocacy for crime victims.

In 2017, Julie was promoted to lieutenant and chosen to grow the Victim Services Unit to be more commensurate with an agency of HPD’s size.

Four years and more than $8 million in grant funding later, Victim Services is now a fully-fledged division of the Support Services Command within Field and Support Operations. She grew it from just 14 advocates to a staff of 49 that in 2021 served 27,383 crime victims.

During this period of remarkable growth, Lt. Pleasant was one of the founding members of the Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART) that sends a civilian advocate and law enforcement officer to domestic violence scenes when requested by the first arriving patrol officer.

In addition to providing an immediate trauma-informed needs and safety assessment, the advocates offer to arrange an on-scene domestic violence forensic exam, which allows victims to bypass the potentially lengthy wait of a hospital visit if injuries do not otherwise warrant medical services.

Though the small pilot grant from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office was discontinued, the City of Houston leaned into the successful DART program; the expanded Victim Services Division now – for the first time – has a night shift of personnel that can respond to domestic violence and other violent crime scenes.

Lt. Pleasant holds a bachelor of criminal justice degree from Sam Houston State University and a master of criminology from the University of Houston Clear Lake. She is the proud mother of two sons, Hunter and Jarrett Pleasant.