Houston Police Department

PUBLIC AFFAIRS


Public Affairs is compromised of media relations, community service functions, open records requests, and maintenance of the department’s website. The office is organized into the following units:



Administration
A civilian deputy director manages and supervises all units within Public Affairs, along with a lieutenant and an administrative sergeant. Additionally, a sergeant oversees a senior police officer, who serves as a web master for several HPD social media sites and two civilian support staff members who function as an executive office assistant and a time- keeper.



Media Relations
The Media Relations Unit is staffed with civilian public information officers (PIOs) that are responsible for releasing official department statements to the media, coordinating press conferences for investigators, and for the development of daily press releases. PIOs are available 24-hours a day to respond to high-profile incidents of media interest. The unit also produces a monthly audio podcast and utilizes social media sites, Facebook and Twitter to promote department news and information,



Multi-Media
The Multi-Media Unit consists of Video Production, Web, Awards and Publications. The Web Unit is responsible for the design and lay-out of the department’s website, posting and maintaining web based content which also includes crime statistics/data, links to other city departments, and press release archives. The awards coordinator is assigned to this unit and ensures continuity of the awards/commendation process. The Video Production Unit provides a daily digest of print and broadcast department-related news stories, produces educational videos, public service announcements and videotapes HPD press conferences and media availabilities.



Community Services
The Community Services Unit delivers crime prevention and educational information, brochures, and demonstrations upon request from community groups, corporations, religious institutions, and other entities. The Community Services Unit serves as the entry point and coordinating unit for the Volunteer Initiatives Program, which includes Citizens on Patrol and the Citizens Police Academy. The unit also handles the coordination of major events throughout the year such as National Night Out and the Comida Food Drive. Additionally through state funding, the unit coordinates a youth gang prevention/mentoring program in partnership with seven Houston-area Boys and Girls Club locations and is responsible for monitoring local retail stores for compliance with Tobacco Laws.



Community Outreach Unit
The Community Outreach Unit is a pro-active and ethnically diverse group of officers who liaison with various segments of the community to diffuse conflicts and open lines of communication between the department and the community. The unit meets regularly with the leadership of organizations such as LULAC, NAACP, the Asian Community Center, and others to help foster positive relations with HPD. The unit also coordinates several annual community events, such as Look Good/Feel Good, One Voice and the HPD Blue Crew Home Repair Project.



Community Liaison Unit
Senior Community Liaisons interact with various communities, ethnic and youth groups to provide feedback to the department regarding quality of life issues and community perceptions of crime. The unit also facilitates the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) program that utilizes architectural means, such as landscaping and lighting, to prevent or reduce opportunities of crime. The unit also manages the Youth Police Advisory Council (YPAC) which consists of a select group of high school students that participate in community service projects and attend leadership workshops whereby they disseminate information to peers, schoolmates and counselors.



Open Records
The Public Affairs Division’s Open Records Unit is responsible for responding to requests for public information according to the guidelines set forth in the Texas Public Information Act. The act mandates that governmental bodies provide information to requestors within specific timelines and according to various rules defining confidential and public information.  Since 2008, the unit has been processing over 5,000 requests a year.  Many of the requests are voluminous and complex, involving thousands of pages of responsive material, hundreds of hours of processing time, multiple attempts at negotiations with requestors, and legal briefs to the Texas Attorney General.  Customers include national and local news media, investigative reporters, attorneys, insurance companies, and the general public.  Information requested from the unit can cover any type of documents or record created by the department, including police and arrest reports, calls-for-service inquiries, entire investigative case files, dash cam videos, policies and circulars, e-mails and memos, crime statistics, and more.



Open Records staff members work closely with HPD staff attorneys and the City Legal Department to request rulings from the Attorney General allowing the department to protect the release of information that could jeopardize ongoing investigations or hinder the department’s police mission to detect and deter crime.