First Female Police Chief

On January 19, 1990, Mayor Kathy Whitmire appointed Deputy Chief Elizabeth “Betsy” Watson as chief of police. Under Chief Watson, the department established the Personnel Concerns Program. This program was designed to give direct attention to and provided remedial action for employees demonstrating behavioral problems.

Lee v. City of Houston

In March 1991, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on the long-running lawsuit known as Lee v. City of Houston. The lawsuit was a direct result of the hiring of civilian executives and managers into positions that where previously held by ranking officers. The court held that “if a particular job assignment requires no knowledge of police work in the department, and entails no supervision of classified officers, the position need not be classified.” But it held that the statute did prohibit non-classified employees from supervising classified officers.

Chief Sam Nuchia

Chief Sam Nuchia performed a number of noteworthy achievements during his tenure beginning in 1992:

  • The Special Response Group was formed and trained to handle large crowds and special events. (1993)
  • Response time on Code One call was lowered to 4.4 minutes from a previous high of 6.1 minutes in 1991. (1994)
  • New step pay increases were established for officers with 17 years in grade and sergeants and lieutenants with 3 and 8 years in grade respectively. (1994)
  • The Women’s Advisory Council was created to review concerns of female officers who, incidental, now comprised 11 percent of the police force. (1995)
  • Officers with 20 or more years experience were eligible for the new Deferred Retirement Option Program. (1995)

Preparing for the New Century

In January 1997, Assistant Chief Clarence O. “Brad” Bradford was sworn in as the new chief of police for the city of Houston. Chief Bradford was a 17-year veteran of the Houston Police Department and was also a licensed attorney. Chief Bradford pledged to “cultivate community relations and to suppress crime.”

“Meet and Confer”

“Meet and confer” was a bill signed into law by Governor George W. Bush in 1997 that allowed officers to vote for a representative organization to negotiate for them with the city administration on compensation, benefits and working conditions.

In November 1998, the “meet and confer” package was approved by City Council. This resulted in one of the largest compensation increases for police officers in the history of HPD. The contract created the rank of executive assistant chief and provided for a basic annual pay structure for the department’s 5,324 classified officers.