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HPD Response to Union News Release

June 21, 2006 -- Public Safety remains the uncompromising foremost priority of the Houston Police Department.

That said, HPD welcomes feedback and input from all sources. This includes an open-door policy, with Union leadership having open access to Executive Staff meetings and the ability to request any ad hoc meetings they wish to have with the Chief.

"We believe this two-way flow of information is essential to the success of the Department," said Chief Harold L. Hurtt.

We agree that while overall crime is down, violent crime has increased, particularly in some specific areas of the city. We also believe HPD has initiated an effective strategy to combat it, working diligently through the aggressive deployment of personnel and resources through several overtime initiatives. It is noteworthy that despite an increase in approximately 200,000 new residents and experiencing a significant reduction in police staffing over the last several years, the city has experienced a 6.4% decrease in crime per capita through the first five months of this year. Another measure of the Houston Police Department's success is in the report by the Harris County District Attorney's office, which processed a record number of
criminal charges for calendar year 2005. Additionally, the D.A. reported that this year's rate exceeds last year's by approximately 10 percent for the first quarter of this calendar year.

Concerning criticisms of the Department's ability to transcend traditional notions of police service, Chief Hurtt sought the creation of a gang division, a gang murder squad, a cold case squad, and established several captain positions to address issues such as Homeland Security and night shift management of personnel. The current overtime programs, coupled with the efforts that combine other law enforcement agencies to address concurrent public safety matters is evidence that the command staff is forward thinking in its approach. The creation of the Police Foundation is also an example of a creative response to financial challenges, thereby reducing the demand placed upon the general fund budget, while improving officer training and
modernizing equipment.

As HPD meets its external challenges, the staff is dealing with administrative issues affecting the infrastructure and technological aspects of the department. Some changes have been made concerning uniform grooming standards, and the Department disagrees that efforts to maintain a professional image and increased officer safety are trivial matters. In fact, such issues bear directly on a police department's ability to build credibility with the community it serves and pride within an organization.

"Make no mistake, the buck stops with me," said Chief Hurtt in response to the union president's recent statement to the media.

The Houston Police Department will continue to focus on the safety of the public, and all police employees have the appreciation of a command staff that recognizes their contributions and sacrifices. The Department also recognizes and is encouraged by the support shown by Mayor White and other elected city leaders to increase staffing and funding for the Department.


For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.