As I wrote in my last article, it is no secret that we are in the worst manpower crisis this Department has ever seen. We have less police officers on Houston streets than we did 20 years ago, while our population and that of our surrounding suburbs has sky rocketed.
Houston is likely to be the third largest city in America within the next decade and it doesn’t take a genius to understand we are headed for disaster if we do not address this growing problem.
We hear from officers and supervisors every day that there are not enough officers on the streets to run calls and provide adequate backup. Also, there are not enough detectives to handle the massive caseload that is coming in. The only way HPD has been able to stay afloat is because we have the best officers and supervisors in the world, who work tirelessly to make sure this city does not descend into chaos (see Super Bowl, Hurricane Harvey, World Series, World Series Parade).
So, while I applaud each and every one of you for doing more with less for a generation, it needs to STOP! It is not fair to the brave men and women of this Department to jeopardize their safety and risk complete burnout because of inadequate staffing.
With that in mind, I have written a “Drive for 500” Pledge that is included for you here below. I have distributed this document to every City Council member. It essentially asks these elected officials to pledge – and sign a pledge – that they will find the necessary funding to hold six HPD academy classes for each of the next five years.
If we continue to see attrition numbers of 200-250 officers a year, this plan with conservatively add 500 officers in the next five years. If we see a decrease in attrition, we could easily add 600 or more. Although we need these officers now, this is a reasonable long-term plan that the academy is quite capable of handling. The plan would allow steady growth. It is well documented that we need more than the 500 officers outlined in this pledge; however, the current mayor and council will only be in office for another six years, therefore allowing the HPOU to ask the next generation of council members to re-up their commitment for another 500 officers in the near future.
At the time of writing this article we have already received a commitment from Mayor Sylvester Turner and half of City Council. I expect all of the council – with the exception of maybe one or two – to sign and return these forms in the coming days. Their signatures solidify their commitment to us that the manpower crisis plaguing us for a generation, will finally be addressed and given the attention and resources it deserves.
We at the HPOU will be calling a press conference sometime in January to announce this plan to the public and I am inviting every member of the Department and the City Council members who support us, to attend and show the community just how important this issue is to all of us. (We will send out a notice with details at the appropriate time).
As we continue to address important issues impacting us all, I am asking every member to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @hpoutx and assist us in spreading our message. Take an active role and SHARE and RETWEET our posts. It only takes a few seconds and with a network of 5,200 people we can expand our reach exponentially.
In addition, please download the HPOU app (App Store/Google Play) so that you can stay informed.
As always, be safe out there!
Drive for 500 Pledge
It is no secret to anyone that the Houston Police Department has been woefully understaffed for the last 20 years and the problem is only getting worse. As the population of the City of Houston has grown exponentially, our Department has actually decreased by 200 officers. Make no mistake, we are in the worst manpower crisis HPD has ever seen. Difficult decisions have been made over the years that have resulted in this problem, but instead of dwelling on the past, let us all move forward together to provide a viable, practical and affordable solution to this crisis. We can no longer kick this can down the road and allow an erosion of services that not only leaves our citizens unsatisfied with the level of service they receive, but also places them in danger. Our officers cannot continue to unnecessarily place their lives in harm’s way because of inadequate staffing. This understaffing is not fair to all Houstonians and it isn’t fair to the brave men and women of the Houston Police Department. This needs to be fixed and the time is now!
On behalf of the 5,200 Houston Police Officers I am asking you to sign the “Drive for 500” pledge and promise to the community and all Houston Police Officers that the City of Houston will begin the steady march to a properly staffed Police Department, one befitting the greatest City in the World.
Joe Gamaldi HPOU President
I, Councilmember —– ——-, do pledge to the citizens of Houston and every Houston Police Officer that I will identify the necessary funding for the Houston Police Department to conduct six academy cadet classes for the next five fiscal years. With the understanding that if that if this pledge is fulfilled the Houston Police Department will be able to add 500 officers to their ranks, above the attrition level. This pledge will allow the Houston Police Department to grow to approximately 5,700 officers and ensure that the Houston Police Department can provide a level of service to the community not seen in a generation.