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HPD Chief McClelland to retire

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Chief McClelland

Mayor Sylvester Turner today announced that he has accepted the retirement of Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland, effective February 26, 2016. McClelland was sworn in as a police officer in September 1977. He rose through the ranks at HPD and was sworn in by former Mayor Annise Parker as police chief on April 14, 2010.

“I want to thank Chief McClelland for his 39 years of service to the City,” said Mayor Turner. “He is a respected figure in the community who has served this city well and has many accomplishments of which to be proud. The city’s crime rate during his tenure is lower than it was for the previous six years and citizen complaints filed against our officers are at a record low.”

Chief McClelland managed the fifth largest police agency in the nation with a budget of more than $825 million and a staff of 5200 sworn officers and 1200 civilian employees. Whether it is creating new programs aimed at encouraging positive interaction with Houston’s youth, organizing a town hall where residents have the opportunity to ask questions or simply sharing a cup of coffee with residents, Chief McClelland made it a point to focus on taking HPD to the community it serves.

When asked what he considers his proudest accomplishments, he cites the lower crime rate, HPD’s stewardship of its financial resources and improved community relations. He is also very personally proud of having been able to convince former Mayor Parker and City Council to name HPD headquarters after Officer Edward A. Thomas, one of HPD’s first African American officers and the department’s longest serving officer.

This is a decision that was reached after much personal thought and consultation with my family,” said McClelland. “It was not an easy decision, but I know it is the right decision for me personally. I am leaving HPD in a better place than it was six years ago.”

Mayor Turner has not yet selected an interim chief. That decision will be made in the coming days.

And then will follow the search for a full-time Chief, which will take longer, and which will have a significant effect on Mayor Turner’s ability to push through reforms in how HPD operates. It will be interesting to see whether the Mayor prioritizes looking for a successor from within or without, and what kind of input he gets from Council. My best wishes to Chief McClelland as he prepares to begin the next chapter of his life. The Chron and the Press have more.

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One Comment

  1. Steve Houston says:

    For every mess that could be laid at his feet, he gave the city many years of service and should be wished well as he retires/shown the door. Given others that have left since the runoff, the interim leader of the city police will probably be executive assistant chief Dirden (sp?), a man who was promoted from the rank of Lt some years back. If the mayor wants the most bang for the buck, he will not pick Austin’s chief Art Acevedo (sp?), who despite making claims he was not looking to leave Austin, was very actively in the running to lead San Antonio last year and mentioned for a federal position just prior to that.

    Turner has few choices internally that are not poor clones of past failed leadership, his efforts to find a good chief hampered by the fact that he appointed former chief Bradford to the head of his public safety committee. The problem with picking someone internally is that most have the wrong headset needed for change, real change, and are mired in the “we’ve never done it that way” frame of mind or are graduates of local diploma mills for criminal justice degrees (said to be somewhat easier to get than the marketing degrees of yesteryear). In order for any new chief to be effective, Turner needs to get rid of as many of the existing political appointees as possible, most of them convinced they are the one and only choice to lead the organization into the future (and willing to say or do anything in order to get the role).

    As predicted last year, there was never any doubt about McClelland leaving early this year, every new mayor wanting their own pick in the important departments. HFD has far better prospects to lead their organization into much needed change, their member on the committee co-chairing with Bradford a well respected, intelligent guy who knows the right people for the right spots if he is allowed to eschew politics, too many groups demanding this or that in opposition to one another.