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Looking to hire more cops for Houston

We’ll see about this.

The head of the Houston police union announced Wednesday that city leaders had pledged to grow the Houston Police Department ranks by 500 officers over the next five years, far fewer than the city’s police chief said he needs.

“It’s no secret the Houston Police Department has been doing more with less, for far too long,” HPOU President Joseph Gamaldi said Wednesday afternoon at a crowded news conference at union headquarters.

The influx of officers would still be a fraction of the 2,000 new officers Chief Art Acevedo has said he believes the department needs to deal with the city’s growth, but comes as Houston has struggled for years to meaningfully increase the staffing in the department.

Gamaldi’s initiative, which the union is calling the “Drive for 500,” came after union officials visited all of the city’s council members, as well as Mayor Sylvester Turner, and asked them to pledge their support to increase the department that has nearly 5,200 officers on the job.

[…]

Currently, the HPD operates on a yearly budget of $827 million, and it costs the department around $3 million to run each class of recruits through its in-house academy.

The call for more officers comes as the city management last year had to close a $130 million budget shortfall.

The staffing proposal follows a concerted campaign last year to reform the city’s pension system, which officials warned was underfunded and threatened the city’s long-term financial health.

Meanwhile, Chief Acevedo and Gamaldi have stepped up calls for an large infusion of new officers into the department, saying it is dangerously understaffed, particularly compared to other large cities around the country.

Though Houston has fewer police officers per resident than other large cities, I remain unconvinced that we need to go on a hiring spree. At the very least, I’d like to understand what the plan is for a larger force. HPD’s solve rate isn’t so hot, so if the idea is to staff up on investigators with the goal of closing out more cases, then I can be on board with that. If it’s more like hire now and figure it out later, I’ll take a pass.

As the story suggests, hiring more cops would likely be part of the argument to alter or lift the revenue cap. Not my preferred approach, but I admit I’m not representative on this. I am ready for this argument to be fully rolled out, in anticipation of a vote this year.

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3 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    “Though Houston has fewer police officers per resident than other large cities, I remain unconvinced that we need to go on a hiring spree. At the very least, I’d like to understand what the plan is for a larger force. HPD’s solve rate isn’t so hot, so if the idea is to staff up on investigators with the goal of closing out more cases, then I can be on board with that. If it’s more like hire now and figure it out later, I’ll take a pass.”

    Kuff nailed it. Solving the crimes that have already occurred is the best way to get rid of those who will be committing new crimes in the future.

    Can’t rob a liquor store or steal an ATM if you are locked down in Huntsville.

  2. Steve Houston says:

    Even if Houston drops the revenue cap, can the city afford all these new officers? Nowhere in the article does it mention the impact of property valuations from Harvey coming into play, the city unwilling to have last year’s assessments lowered so the predicted increase in property taxes is likely to be a big decrease, a “double whammy” all by itself. And then it is understood that cops in training and for the first few years are paid much less than they get after a couple of years on the job so that rapid escalation in costs as officer Gamaldi continues his demands for higher pay across the board come to fruition. So short of details on where the money is coming from, this seems like wishful thinking, the police chief admitting he wants 2000 more officers as crime declines, his department stops enforcing many drug laws, and he hands over all jail responsibilities to the county next month.

    When asked where he would place the extra officers, their chief is surprisingly vague too, most of his political rhetoric implies he wants more street level patrol officers rather than investigators but that might just be a case of telling the public what they want to hear. The city is already getting rid of 350+ jobs with the jail transfer, many of them officers, and it could save far more by handing over the reigns of the crime lab, their dispatch system, and property room to the county. Each of those would free up more police on top of the monetary savings but instead, the tax cap is likely to be on the table and property taxes will be less combined with existing predicted deficits so I have serious doubts about this initiative.

  3. Manny Barrera says:

    Too much TV for so many people, many crimes are solved because people talk, not the Monk way.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/big-tippers-calls-crimestoppers-hotline-helps-solve-2-500-cases-article-1.317845

    Why so many police chiefs are against laws like SB4, http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Police-chiefs-SB-4-is-a-lose-lose-for-Texas-11110336.php

    If I were a paperless person, I would not report anything to the police. Why risk deportation.

    Houston does need more police on the streets.