POLICE Department

Mobility Response Team Unit

In July of 2007, Houston Mayor Bill White approved the creation of a new unit to respond to Houston’s traffic mobility concerns. Provided with a 5-year federal grant, the Mobility Response Team (MRT) Unit was established within the Houston Police Department (HPD) and put into action. Their mission was to improve traffic mobility on the surface streets in Houston by working cooperatively with the City of Houston Traffic Operations Division. The MRT Unit was staffed with 5 HPD sergeants and 24 non-classified employees with the title of Mobility Service Officer (MSO). The MRT Unit staff was divided between two work shifts, Day Shift and Evening Shift. The Mobility Service Officers were assigned to patrol within the I-610 Loop on new Suzuki Burgman 400 motor scooters searching out and being dispatched to mobility related incidents. Their mission was to report traffic hazards, signal outages, utility disruptions and to provide traffic direction at crash scenes. They were also assigned to mitigate traffic congestion at concerts, conventions, parades and sporting events that took place within Houston.

Over the following 5 years, the MRT Unit grew to a staff of 36 Mobility Service Officers. Also procured, were new Suzuki Burgman 650 motor scooters, new Dodge Caravan vans and Ford Crown Victoria sedans into their vehicle fleet. With the addition of the upgraded Suzuki Burgman 650 motor scooters, vans and sedans, the MRT Unit’s area of responsibility expanded to citywide coverage and included Houston’s entire freeway system. Likewise, their duties increased to being able to issue parking citations and tow illegally parked vehicles within what is known as the Residential Parking Permit (RPP) area of Houston. The MRT Unit was also equipped with 3 speed trailers that are deployed out to various citywide locations as needed. Furthermore, a significant amount of time (regular duty/overtime) and personnel are dedicated to assisting the Special Operations Division with assignments on a regular basis. Moreover, during the school year from August to June, Mobility Service Officers are assigned to Houston schools during peak traffic periods to assist with traffic management. Ultimately, with the progression to an expanded area of patrol and increased responsibilities, the motor scooters were replaced by 2013 Ford F150 trucks that are better in overall utility and equipment to serve the unit in its daily operations. A key member of the MRT Unit’s progression was Sergeant Steve Perez. He was a member of the MRT Unit from July 2009 to August 2017. The HPD family suffered the loss of Sergeant Steve Perez in August 2017 when he drowned in Hurricane Harvey’s devastating floodwaters.

Due to the tremendous success and demand for the Mobility Response Team Unit, once the 5-year federal grant expired in fiscal year 2012, permanent funding for the MRT Unit was allocated and included in the Houston Police Department’s annual budget. Presently, the MRT Unit is staffed with 4 Sergeants and 28 Mobility Service Officers responsible for mitigating traffic mobility issues throughout Houston’s 665 square miles. Over the past 18 months during the Coronavirus pandemic, in addition to their regular duties, the MRT Unit has been tasked with providing traffic management at large scale operations such as COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites, Houston Food Bank distribution sites and cooperatively working with the Houston Independent School District Police Department on various assignments. The MRT Unit continues to deliver an exemplary level of service each day throughout the City guided by the phrase, “We’ve got work to do,” as spoken by Sergeant Steve Perez.