As we approach primary season, early voting is set to start on Feb. 20 with election day shortly after on March 6, I would like to stress the importance of every member getting out to vote. But it’s not just enough for you to vote; you must talk to your family, friends and neighbors to insure they vote as well.
The full list of our endorsements is in our editorial in this issue of the Badge & Gun and will be on the HPOU website. We also will email them out, they will be pushed out on our App and we will post them to social media (now is the time to “like” us on Facebook and “follow” us on Twitter).
Armed with this information, please take the time to educate those close to you on why voting for these candidates is important to you and to law enforcement as a whole.
There are some very important judicial races coming up and I have made it no secret that the membership of the HPOU is not pleased with the direction of the Harris County criminal justice system. We are sick and tired of low bond amounts for career, violent criminals and disgusted with deferred adjudications being handed out like candy.
Officers are risking their lives every day to catch these criminals over and over again. It’s not right and it’s not fair to all of you. It’s not fair to the innocent citizens of Houston who continue to be victimized by these predators. Believe me, the public is listening. I have started to receive emails from citizens sharing their heartbreaking stories where they or family members have been victims of criminals who should have been behind bars.
Once such victim shared with me that he and his family were recently victims of an armed robbery. Thankfully he was carrying and defended his family, but the suspect had just gotten out on bond 24 hours earlier for unlawfully carrying a weapon. This victim shared with me that his family is considering moving and that Houston “doesn’t feel like home anymore.”
As always, we at the HPOU will continue to raise awareness about this problem so that this gentleman (and his family) will know that we are fighting for them.
This upcoming primary is the opening salvo on bringing real change to the system. Two candidates that will be in highly contested judicial primaries are Maritza Antu and Justin Keiter. Both are veteran prosecutors who will be the type of law and order judges this county sorely needs. Turnouts in primaries are notoriously low in an off-cycle and the membership of the HPOU could easily turn the tide in these races.
It is easy to sit on the sidelines and complain about the problems in our system. It is quite another to actually get out there and make a difference. If as many people showed up to vote for the people we endorse as we see complain on Facebook about our criminal justice system, our candidates would win in a landslide.
If you are feeling particularly helpful or committed, we can get you signed up to actually work a polling location for our candidates and talk to citizens about the importance of electing the right people. At the bare minimum you must vote and spread the word to others do the same.
We sent out a contract survey through e-blast and a push notification on our App. If you did not receive it, you need to make sure you have downloaded our App, available on the App Store and Google Play – or contact Lisa at 832-200-3432 to make sure you are added to our email list.
We will likely begin negotiations toward the end of February or the beginning of March. As always, the process will take several months. By reading some of the responses to the survey, there still appears to be some confusion about what is negotiated in our Meet and Confer. The HPOU does not negotiate pensions – that is the prerogative of HPOPS.
The HPOU does not negotiate and has nothing to do with the burial fund. We were asked to negotiate raising the cap on comp time from 480 hours. However, that is federal law and although it would be nice, unfortunately our contract does not supersede the highest law in the land.
No word yet on whether Trump wants to give us that power.
The HPOU does not negotiate co pays or whether or not Blue Cross/Blue Shield is our insurance provider. Side note: since the City is self-insured, it makes no difference whether the insurance provider is CIGNA or Blue Cross or any other insurance company because they are simply an administrator of the program for the City. Just because we renamed PFT days to PD days does not mean you lost them in the last contract (seriously that was one of the complaints).
As with years past, we will be focused on keeping us competitive in the market place with Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Fort Worth in our total benefit package (pay, time off, etc.) with an eye toward closing the gap with Austin.
As always if you need anything I am a phone call away. Be safe out there.