IF NOT CAREFUL, CITIZENS WILL LOOK AT THE HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT and quickly judge its operation by using a scary formula developed by the national news media covering a story in Ferguson, Missouri.
No department is perfect when the job comes to ethnic diversity and the handling of policing the minority communities. No city is ever likely to recruit a police force in perfect proportion with the ethnicity of its population.
Houston and HPD are doing as good a job – if not better – than most big cities in the United States. According to the latest Bayou City demographics, whites make up 50.5 percent of the population and 52 percent of HPD. Just five years ago African Americans and Hispanics made up 40 percent of the Department. That number has risen to 45 percent today, coming closer to the actual population percentages.
To judge Houston and its police force like one might judge those law enforcement departments in smaller towns and cities would be terribly unjust. There is no doubt that the department has better communications with the communities of Houston.
The Union now has a better-than-ever relationship with the associations representing African American, Hispanic and Asian American HPD officers. The vast majority of these groups are also members of the Houston Police Officers Union. In a profile in this issue of the Badge & Gun, Officer Eric Fagan, president of the African American Police Officers League, says of the league’s relationship with HPOU, “We’re not fighting against each other. We work together hand-in-hand. Ray Hunt is like a brother to me.”
Fagan initiated a great idea to improve communications between Houston police officers and the African American community – to get up on Sunday morning, put on the Houston blue and go to worship in a black church alongside upstanding citizens. Officers and citizens who worship together are quite likely to work together to keep the city peaceful and safe. Everyone there will share the worship of God.
The first scheduled fellowship is the Sunday morning worship service at the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church on Feb. 8. It should be the first of several such activities. Fagan’s AAPOL members will be present, as will Ray Hunt and some members of the HPOU Board of Directors and probably some members of the Command Staff. But Fagan and Hunt stress that the more men and women in uniform that show up that day, the better.