On the off chance you have been living under a rock for the last three years, the current DA, Kim Ogg, and some of her upper-level management team are nothing short of a train wreck. They have completely dismantled a once-proud office and contributed to a revolving-door justice system that reduces the safety of our officers, the community, and erodes the faith of the public in our criminal justice system.
We have not been shy about pointing out the daily failures of Ogg’s office and the failures of the elected judges in our community, to providing any semblance of justice for victims. Everyone agrees there are some fine career prosecutors in Harris County, but Ogg Must Go – along with a number of the judges! But there are no shortcuts, no end arounds; the way we win is through an intelligent strategy and hard work.
We started raising awareness through our social media and free airtime on the news for years now. This was to make sure the public knew what was going on in the criminal justice system. We know that all too often the decisions the HPOU are highlighting happen behind closed doors, without knowledge of the public or the victims. We exposed all of it and we continue to do so (I have included my article below that was published by the Houston Courant).
The HPOU has begun running targeted digital ads that you have likely already seen on your favorite websites under the title of “Harris County Deserves Better.” We do this to continue educating the public about this courthouse debacle. We have numerous strategies and programs that are going to be rolled out over the coming months to ensure that our endorsed candidates are victorious in the primaries in March and the general election in November. But we can’t do this alone.
The HPOU is building coalitions with other police groups, business leaders and members of the community, but we need your help too. We need everyone ALL IN to assist us in spreading our message but also raising funds for these campaigns. When the time calls for it we are going to be asking for volunteers, poll workers, phone bankers, “sharing” info on social media from the comfort of your home is not going to be enough to win. We all need to put in the work. In addition, we need to ensure our candidates are well funded.
If you aren’t giving to PAC (Political Action Committee) now is the time to sign up at the Union. If you are doing $5 a month, now is the time to up your contribution to $10. If you prefer, you can make a one-time donation to the HPOU PAC. Just write a check and send it in. If you are retired and still looking to assist active officers and the Houston community, make a one-time donation to our PAC and join the fight!
Every little bit helps ($10, $20, $50, $100) and it’s what we need if we want to enact real change. We are going to have help from all across the country as other FOP lodges that are experiencing similar issues with their activist DAs are joining our fight and lending their assistance.
This is our moment to change the direction of Harris County for the better. To make sure that violent criminals know they will be held responsible for their actions. To make our community safer for the citizens we swore to protect and our officers. We can accomplish this lofty goal if we come together and do what we do best, work our asses off. See you on the campaign trail!
As always, be safe out there and if you need anything I am only a phone call, text away, or you can also reach me at the following: email (firstname.lastname@example.org), messenger on Facebook, DM on twitter (@JoeGamaldi).
If you have made it this far bravo! Here is my article published by the Houston Courant, talking about just how far our system has fallen:
Harris County’s Dirty Little Secret
Much has been made recently, here in Houston and across other big cities, about the horrific results of bail reform, but to be honest this isn’t even the worst of what is going on in the criminal justice system. I am sure you are thinking what could be worse than letting violent repeat offenders out on bond over and over again? It’s cutting them sweetheart deals when they agree to their guilt and it is much more insidious and damaging to our community. This is happening every day in Harris County courtrooms with the full knowledge and approval of the elected District Attorney Kim Ogg. They can accomplish this egregious affront by bastardizing the practice of “Deferred Adjudication.”
For some readers, this may be the first time you have ever heard the words deferred adjudication, so let’s take a moment to explain what that is. Deferred adjudication can be given to a defendant in a criminal case (in an agreed plea deal) and in most cases allows them to skirt any jail/prison time. They walk free from the courtroom. As long as they stay out of trouble for the length of time they are placed on deferred, their criminal history will reflect no conviction or wrongdoing. This tool in the DA’s toolbox is actually a good one if used properly. The design when this was put into law, was to be used for a first-time offender, who maybe got caught in a bad situation who didn’t deserve to be put away for years. The little brother who just happens to be in the car when the older brother robs the store, doesn’t deserve to have his life ruined. I think we can all agree it is advantageous to have the ability to give that young man a break. Let me assure you, that is not what is happening in our courtrooms. We are seeing a disturbing trend of deferred adjudication being given to violent, habitual offenders, career criminals. There is no thought of justice for the victims in these crimes. The DA’s office is giving them numerous chances, and it is clear they have no intention of holding the true criminal element in our community accountable on a consistent basis.
A few quick examples to highlight just how bad it is:
-Clayton Brown has a lengthy, violent, criminal history, he shot three people in two separate incidents, one was a 15-year-old girl. In a plea deal with the DA’s office he had two of his cases
dismissed and on the third they gave him deferred. Shot three people was given no prison time. Where is the justice for the victims?
-Adrian Lizcano pointed a gun at several people and threatened to kill them. He was given deferred for that incident. While on deferred, he crushed his 15-day old infant daughter’s skull and killed her.
-Antonio Washington was given deferred for 3 aggravated robberies. While on deferred he robbed a Walmart at gunpoint, putting dozens of citizens in mortal danger. Thankfully one of our officers happen to be off duty and in line and was able to stop him.
-Mark Baldridge, a prolific collector and distributor of images of child sex abuse, was given deferred adjudication for 8 felony counts of Child Pornography.
I could go on and on with egregious examples, but the other side will claim we “cherry picked” them. Rest assured there are thousands. Let’s peek behind the curtain to see the scope of this disturbing trend.
Kim Ogg and her office have taken deferred adjudication and placed it on steroids, the likes of which we have never seen. The long-term harm to our community and victims is immeasurable. Here is just a taste, as December 2019:
– We have nearly 1,600 people on deferred adjudication for aggravated assault
– Over 1,100 people on deferred for aggravated robbery and robbery
– Over 600 people on deferred for possession of child pornography/indecency with a child/online Solicitation of a minor
– Over 300 people for sexual assault
– Over 1,750 people for felony DWI offenses
– And what I believe is a true marker of just how far we have fallen, over 300 people on deferred for felon in possession of a firearm.
Let that sink in for a moment. We are having a national debate on guns and gun laws and yet we are handing out no jail time to convicted felons, who are found in possession of a firearm. Kim Ogg is literally giving gun toting felons a “Get Out of Jail Free Card”. That is not even mentioning a large group of the aggravated robberies and aggravated assaults committed with guns, and the assailants were given a sweetheart deal with no jail time. We aren’t even using the tools we have in our toolbox now to hold criminals accountable for crimes with guns and all anyone can talk about is new gun laws.
Even more disturbing, the above numbers is what we can track. These deferred numbers are actually much higher. When someone violates their deferred, is revoked and convicted, we are unable to track that case effectively. The above numbers do not include those criminals who have been placed on deferred, re-offended, and therefore violating the conditions of their deferred adjudication. (Conceivably at that point they should go to the jail for the original charge, however we are finding the DA’s office and Judges aren’t even following through in those cases. But that is an article for another day). It doesn’t take an active imagination to understand, it means the numbers above are infinitely worse. Kim Ogg apologists will say they
have to cut these deals, in order to keep their dockets manageable, and Judges play a role in accepting the terms of the agreement. I will concede those points. They absolutely must negotiate deals with defense attorneys in order to allow the system to run somewhat efficiently. However, they are giving away the farm in these negotiations with full approval from District Attorney Kim Ogg and her administration.
When you have violent, true habitual offenders, you should only be discussing how long they will go to prison, not negotiating to let them off the hook completely. Is anyone asking the victim how they feel about these deals? Does anyone care of about justice for victims? Our current elected DA is so worried about going light on criminals, she has completely forgotten that it is her duty to protect and represent victims!
People will attempt to make this a partisan issue or a political issue, but throwing the book at violent criminals, who prey on the hard-working people of our community, is something we should all agree on. With a loud voice, everyone should demand these criminals be held responsible for their actions and stand up for victims. Please share these statistics with your friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers. I am confident the average Houstonian believes that if someone sticks a gun in their face and robs them, that miscreant will be thrown in jail for 10+ years. The reality is the opposite. They are much more likely to receive a sweetheart deal and let free to victimize the next hard-working person and maybe even kill someone. Venture to say this is not what any of us want and it is certainly not the Houston I know and love so dearly. This epidemic is within our power to change. We all need to come together and vote out the very person who swore an oath to uphold the law and protect victims in our community…Ogg Must Go. Harris County Deserves Better!