RAY HUNT HAS SOME VERY TOUGH WORDS FOR MAYOR BILL WHITE!
Officers have listened to Mayor White give his explanation and answers to some very pressing issues related to Houston public safety issues that demand decisive action. I would like to offer my opinions as to his explanations.
The Mayors responses to us have become drawn out and self-serving and spark us to get off the sidelines and become major players in his game. Mayor Whites tactics demand that we hold him accountable and expose his lack of leadership.
Where do we go now? In the Mayors latest budget, major cuts were made in HPDs budget resulting in curtailed hiring and reduced overtime. This will diminish the departments ability to respond to calls and perform investigations. It appears that the Mayor was betting on the come that he would get millions from the federal government to shore up our understaffed areas. Houston needs assurances, not bets.
White is very clever to use words like we which indicate that more than one person was involved in this ongoing process. I question that. The trouble is that his ram-it-down-your-throat style is becoming more evident and irritating each day.
Our lame duck Mayor has haplessly steered HPD back into dangerous waters as it relates to a major staffing shortage and no plan for short or long-term solutions. His plan will not fix anything. Unfortunately, his police chief has to remain silent and follow his lead with his cuts.
The real problem now confronts the citizens of Houston. Whenever honest citizens raise relevant concerns about being a crime victim, the Mayor hides behind his slogan that crime rates have come down. This is a hard sale to the large number of folks who have their car or home burglarized daily. I feel that his lack of vision and leadership regarding HPD is a symptom of his calculated ambition for a higher office.
Having no plan and using slight-of-hand responses is scary and no longer should be accepted. I think White should just own up that there is a problem and quit giving us his rambling explanations. It is clear by his cuts that he doesnt want to pay for our plan to improve HPDs ability to protect the citizens of our city. His strategy to stay on message as fiscally responsible would be laughable if it didnt have such a profoundly negative effect.
Additionally to reinforce his position, the Mayor authorizes mass mailings to police officers and other city employees. This costly mailing was intended to give us a complete picture of how much the city pays to employ workers. The HPOU has always viewed police officer compensation in terms of total cost per hour worked and think the funds used for this mailer could have been better spent.
On July 2nd, the Mayor sent HPOU President Gary Blankinship a letter that struck me as nothing more than a very wealthy man having a tirade regarding Garys criticism of Whites decision to cut cadet classes and overtime. In the Mayors letter, he outlined three options to raise the funding to implement more cadet classes and increase overtime. One of his options was to ask officers to take a $4000 annual pay cut to pay for new hires and overtime. This made it clear to me that he really doesnt get it. He appears to be willing to go down any road to achieve his political goals.
The sad truth is that the Mayors flippant response to Gary realistically exposes his low regard for Houston police officers, even after experiencing six line-of-duty deaths of HPD officers. I dont think there are many people who would place themselves in harms way and suffer a line-of-duty death for any amount of money. Its clear to me that Mayor Whites image and rhetoric do not match his actions.
The truth is that the citizens of Houston have fewer officers today than when Mayor White took office. Our officers respond to over 1.1 million calls for emergency services and our investigators have to pick and choose which criminal investigations they will work. HPD officers and citizens are exposed to unnecessary danger due to our severely understaffed department and drastically strapped overtime program.
The Mayor insists that crime is down under his watch by using statistics on Part 1 Crimes. Officers know and citizens experience numerous other serious crimes that are not Part I and do not get investigated because of the Mayors funding decisions.
With the exception of a handful of people within our department, most officers believe the Mayor needs to step up, listen to the voice of the people and officers, and hear our strong desire to have first class public safety services.
Managing a major city takes a leader who instills pride and respect in the troops he or she leads into battle ever day. As sad as it is to say, our emperor is naked. Our department and our citizens deserve better. The Mayors view of HPD officers, combined with his failures to responsibly lead in the area of public safety, is a great disappointment to many officers.
2nd Vice President, HPOU