The new session of the Legislature is upon us and will run for 140 days. Clearly, pensions will be our number one issue, but our team will be monitoring, testifying, etc., on any bills that affect police officers.
As in the 2015 session, we will be working closely with the team from HPOPS to ensure the best plan for our officers gets passed. The HPOU is a founding member of TLEC (Texas Law Enforcement Council) and will meet weekly – as we did last session – in the Capitol with our Texas police partners to make sure all law enforcement is united on issues that affect us.
I remind each of you to update your email addresses with us as we will be sending out regular updates regarding bills debated during the session. As a continued reminder, we have been assured that no pension changes will occur any earlier than this coming July 1.
Rumors are spreading quickly in the HPD beauty shop/barber shop about how many officers are leaving the department. We normally have just under 200 leave each year. With the pension changes expected in July, that number will clearly increase.
No one knows exactly how much of an increase, so any number you hear is just a guess.
I attended the phase down meeting on Dec. 21 for retirements through June to see for myself how many were signing up. A normal December phase down meeting will have around 40 to 50 in attendance. This one had 126 of those planning to leave before July 1.
The increase in retirements will no doubt affect HPD manpower. But Chief Acevedo has assured us that he will implement overtime programs while we crank out new cadets to ease the pain. As many of you will recall, former Mayor Bob Lanier implemented “the 655 Program” when he to supplement officers on the streets. The program essentially added 655 officers through an overtime program.
Many got tired of working the overtime, so such a program cannot continue forever. But it does work when cadet classes are added to eventually replace retiring officers. Chief Acevedo and Mayor Turner are committed to keeping this city safe and both know that our officers are doing a superb job keeping this city safe with the increasing lack of manpower.
Goodbye, Chief Munden
Each retiree or active death notice I get saddens me, but must say that the loss of my friend retired Executive Assistant Chief Kirk Munden really hit hard.
Chief Acevedo was working to bring him back as a civilian chief of staff and I was really looking forward to working with him again. We talked or texted frequently and I knew something was wrong after I left him two messages and got no response.
His wife then called me back from Kirk’s phone and advised me of the injury he sustained in his home and that he was in intensive care. Kirk’s good friend, retired HPD Officer Paul Hershey, rushed to his side and kept us updated daily on his condition. Paul remained there until Kirk passed away.
I am so grateful to Paul and his wife for keeping us updated and for being there for Kirk and his family. I have said many prayers for Kirk’s wife, son, daughter, and extended family and pray you also will keep them in your prayers. They have lost a great man and many of us have lost a dear friend. Chief McKinney was so right in his eulogy when he stated that Kirk always gave others credit when things went right, but owned the decision when things went wrong. He was a true leader!
Shortly after Kirk’s retirement, Mark Clark and I stopped by his home on our way to Dallas for a meeting. We enjoyed a cold beer with him on his back porch as we looked out over the lake where he lived. I will always cherish that moment.
His last text to me was on Nov. 26 when he said, “I’m waiting for a guy at the boat ramp.”
“Rough life!” I responded.
I am thankful he enjoyed a few years at his paradise in Log Cabin, Texas on the lake. Goodbye my friend…..