Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts Tagged ‘HPD’

Council approves body camera storage funds

Good. City Council voted Wednesday to spend $1 million to buy servers and other equipment to store video collected by city police officers equipped with body cameras. The vote, passed with relatively little fuss following months of sometimes-contentious public debate, marks the next step in the Houston Police Department’s ongoing effort to equip more than […]

HPD rolls out its body cameras

The first wave has been deployed. The Houston Police Department handed out Thursday the first wave of 4,100 body cameras being distributed to all first-line officers over the next 12 to 18 months, initiating a new policy that will require officers to wear the cameras for all law-enforcement related activities. About 200 officers – those […]

The pros and cons of merging the crime labs

The calls to merge the city and county crime labs are back, but not everyone likes the idea. Merging Houston’s and Harris County’s crime labs, an idea that was rejected several years ago by the city’s mayor when forensic work was shifted from the police department to a new independent agency, is getting a fresh […]

Shots fired at Sen. Whitmire’s office

Jesus. State Sen. John Whitmire said Thursday afternoon he believes the gun used in the predawn shooting of his Houston-area office was likely an AR-15 assault rifle. The Houston Democrat’s office was fired on at about 12:30 a.m. Thursday. No one was injured in the shooting, which was first reported by KHOU. “[The bullets] were […]

Turner names interim HPD chief

Congratulations, Chief Montalvo. Mayor Sylvester Turner has tapped 36-year Houston Police Department veteran Martha Montalvo to lead the department while his team conducts a nationwide search for a new permanent chief. Montalvo, 56, has served as chief of staff to outgoing Chief Charles McClelland and has held the rank of executive assistant chief since 2004, […]

More questions about body cameras and video accessibility

Still sorting it all out. Months after statewide body camera legislation took effect and the Houston Police Department outlined its policies regarding the devices, local criminal justice watchdogs worry that some video from high-profile incidents may never see the light of day. At issue, they say, are provisions in the law that could stymie requests […]

HPD Chief McClelland to retire

From the inbox: 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 […]

When should body camera video be released?

HPD is still working on it. As the Houston Police Department begins rolling out body cameras among the rank and file, Chief Charles A. McClelland said the department is changing its policy governing how and when HPD releases videos collected by the devices. “If we have a body camera video that’s an officer-involved shooting or […]

Would you like to sit in armed or unarmed?

From Houstonia: Imagine it’s a Saturday afternoon. You stop into Whataburger to pick up lunch with your kids in tow, the only thing on your mind remembering which kid doesn’t want ketchup on his burger, which kid only wants ketchup on his burger, and whether you want to add jalapenõs to your own. You place […]

Council approves body camera contract

Moving forward. City Council approved a $3.4 million contract Wednesday to equip Houston Police Department officers with body-worn cameras despite some lingering concerns that key pieces of the city’s policy for the equipment have not been finalized. Councilmen Mike Laster, C.O. Bradford and Michael Kubosh along with councilwoman Brenda Stardig voted against the contract with […]

Ground broken on the joint processing center

Good. The majority of suspects arrested by Houston police get booked at one of two city jails, and within 48 hours they are transferred and booked in all over again at the Harris County Jail. Two years from now, officials say, this duplication will be a thing of the past. The central and southeast police […]

Commissioners Court to get deposed

This ought to be interesting. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and all four county commissioners are scheduled to be deposed Monday in a federal lawsuit filed by former Houston Police Department crime lab supervisors who said they experienced retaliation after exposing problems with a mobile DUI testing program. Amanda Culbertson and Jorge Wong say the […]

Defining HPD body camera policies

It’s still a work in progress. Houston Police Department officers would activate body cameras when arriving at a crime scene, initiating a traffic stop and during an arrest or search, according to a long awaited proposal outlining use of the devices that was released Tuesday. But City Council members said they were concerned by a […]

Council approves inmate processing center deal with Harris County

Very good news. An end is in sight for the inefficient process of shuttling prisoners in and out of redundant local lockups after the City Council on Wednesday approved an agreement with Harris County to build a long-discussed inmate processing center. Public officials have discussed the need for a new booking center since the 1990s, […]

On cellphones and school zones

I guess I need to talk about this. Six years ago, state lawmakers hoping to protect students banned drivers from texting and talking on hand-held cellphones in school zones. The ban, however, has never been enforced in Houston. City and school district officials have opted not to install the warning signs needed to issue tickets, […]

Turner’s police plan

Time to look at a major policy proposal, from Mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner. Mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner unveiled a plan Thursday to expand the Houston Police Department by 540 officers by 2020, an effort he said is needed to help police better engage the communities they serve and to improve trust between some neighborhoods and […]

Harris County DA to investigate Planned Parenthood clinic here

I haven’t spent any time writing about the misleading attack videos on Planned Parenthood being put out by yet another shadowy anti-abortion group, so let me dispense with this. Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said Wednesday her office has begun a criminal investigation into the Houston branch of Planned Parenthood after the release earlier […]

Sheriff asks for more funds for body cameras

Good move. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office recently applied for a grant from the Department of Justice to purchase 750 wearable body cameras, a new technology aimed at improving government transparency and accountability after a year of high-profile police-involved shootings around the country. A 30-day trial run with body cameras by a few dozen deputies […]

Lawsuit against county by former crime lab supervisor partially reinstated

It’s a bit of a convoluted story. A federal appeals court has reinstated portions of a lawsuit filed by two former Houston Police Department crime lab supervisors who contended that Harris County prosecutors retaliated against them after they exposed problems with the city’s breath-alcohol testing vans, or “BAT vans.” In a 36-page opinion issued on […]

A whiter shade of male

Sheriffing is a man’s job, ladies. I’m sure you understand that. One month into his job as Harris County sheriff, Ron Hickman has filled his roster of top commanders, a new hierarchy marked by one omission: There are no women. Hickman picked 19 men and also scrapped the role of a liaison for lesbian, gay, […]

There are too many questions that need to be answered before we can talk about expanding HPD

Chief McClelland is going to have to start answering them if he wants support for increasing HPD’s budget. Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland last year asked City Council for $105 million over five years to hire hundreds of new officers, a request that came on the heels of a report that showed his department leaves […]

Early returns on body cameras are positive

So far so good. The majority of 100 Houston Police Department officers who have field tested body cameras over a recent two-month period called it a positive experience, though many expressed concern that the technology could endanger officer safety or be used by superiors to discipline them, according to an internal report obtained this week […]

Fighting illegal dumping

Illegal dumping of trash is a huge problem in some Houston neighborhoods. Enforcement is especially tricky because unless you catch someone in the act, there’s little to no evidence to go on. One way to help catch dumpers in the act is with cameras at locations where dumping frequently occurs. Council Member Jerry Davis has […]

The Memphis pension cutting experience

In discussions about Houston’s pension liabilities, the city of Detroit is often trotted out as an analogy and cautionary tale. There’s another city that may be a more accurate comparison, and it’s offering an illustration right now of what might happen if things proceed as many candidates for local office and the Houston Chronicle would […]

Police officers’ pension fund speaks up

The firefighters’ pension fund is the one that gets all the attention, but it’s not the only one the city is responsible for. The Houston Police Officers Pension System (HPOPS) has sent a letter to the city reminding it that they have a deal that restricts what the city can request from the Legislature. Police […]

We need to know how body cameras are going to be used

Having the body cameras is great, but it’s how we use them that really matters. Harris County’s two largest police agencies are testing body cameras on officers but refuse to release their policies detailing when the cameras should be turned on and off to maximize accountability and minimize intrusiveness. The Houston Police Department spent $108,000 […]

All backlogged rape kits have been tested

Great news. Houston officials have completed the lab testing and review of a three-decade backlog of rape kits, yielding 850 matches in the national DNA database. On Monday, Mayor Annise Parker, District Attorney Devon Anderson and police department and crime lab officials trumpeted the newly complete testing of the 6,600 kits as a major milestone. […]

HPD to get a pay raise

Mayor Parker and the police union agree to a new contract. The Houston Police Department hopes a new union contract that targets raises primarily to younger officers will ward off recruiting struggles that have forced it to offer bonuses to cadets. The agreement, which Mayor Annise Parker and Houston Police Officers Union president Ray Hunt […]

2015 Mayoral manifesto: Public safety

Preliminaries Transportation When I first started thinking about this series a couple of months ago, this section was all going to be about the budget. We’ve covered this ground before – public safety is about 65% of the total city budget, yet it’s always “off limits” for consideration when there are shortfalls. It’s always the […]

Now what do we do with those body cameras?

KPRC addresses an important question. HPD has been running a pilot program regarding body cameras for more than a year. 100 officers are currently wearing a body camera. The department has yet to finalize a policy on the use of these cameras and the retention of video. As it stands now, each officer is responsible […]

Still no consensus on how to deal with the criminal justice complex

And it’s back to the Mayor. Pushed by Mayor Annise Parker to decide whether Houston’s aging police and courts buildings should get patchwork repairs or be fully replaced, with both options carrying staggering price tags, City Council members instead opted for indecision. By a 12-4 vote, the body sidestepped both options – one of which […]

Safe passing law update

The city of Houston has an ordinance requiring vehicles to give bikes a three-foot buffer on the streets. How much of an effect has it had so far? A law authorizing police to ticket drivers for encroaching on bicyclists and pedestrians has yielded fewer than a dozen citations in the 20 months it has been […]

The next generation of leaders

The future looks good. A new generation of black activist leadership in Houston has emerged from the protests over the officer-involved deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York. At one point during a town hall last month, the clergyman-moderator acknowledged a fresh face in the audience wearing a T-shirt […]

Commissioners Court approves body camera purchase

Good. Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday unanimously approved District Attorney Devon Anderson’s plan to spend $1.9 million in seized assets to equip Houston police officers and Harris County sheriff’s deputies with body cameras. County officials also said they would move toward giving about 700 deputy constables the same equipment, though the precise amount of […]