Our contract, Austin issues and Local elections

Ray Hunt

As of the writing of this column, Jan. 31, our contract is nearing completion.  I anticipate it being complete and posted online soon after the Feb. 5 general membership meeting.

Hard copies will be available at the HPOU.  Explanation sessions will be held at the Union around the clock for several days.  Voting also will be held around the clock for the same period.

Voting machines from the Harris County Clerk’s office will be used for the voting at the HPOU.  You will have to vote in person and show an identification.

Since this contract was written by lawyers, please contact Doug Griffith, Joe Gamaldi, Will Reiser, Mark Clark or myself if you have any questions or need clarifications on any of the new or red-lined information.

Rumors and false information will naturally be heard, but please try and attend one of the information sessions before voting.  We promised not to bring out a contract that will not pass overwhelmingly and we are confident this contract will be very well received.

Our goal was to bring each rank up to the comparable city averages in pay and benefits.  We believe this has been accomplished over the life of the contract.  Comparing apples to apples is always difficult when each city does things differently; however, we believe our packages for each rank make the Houston Police Department very competitive with Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin.  These have been the agreed-upon comparable cities for all of our contracts.

Please read the contract, make the inquiries, attend one of the information sessions, and vote.  The dates and times of the sessions will be communicated via eblasts, city mail, mdt messages, etc. 

It was clear to me that both sides negotiated this contract in good faith and that the contract is fair for both the officers it covers and the taxpayers who will pay for it.  It was also clear to me that a city that is expanding needs an expanding police force.

This expansion will not take place if a revenue source is not developed to keep up with growth.  This could be in the form of a crime control district or a public safety fee, but something must be identified or developed to pay for more officers.

The State Capitol

As you know, the legislative session is underway.  Our new lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, has made his committee assignments.  We are extremely pleased that our good friends Sen. John Whitmire, a Democrat, retained the chair of Criminal Justice and Senator Joan Huffman, a Republican, retained the vice-chair.  Someone from our team will be in Austin each week during the session.

As stated before, our side will meet each week with members of the Dallas Police Association, Harris County Deputies Association, Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA), Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and many others to make sure we are on the same page when it comes to protecting the rights of police officers.

The Houston Police Department and the Houston Police Officers Pension System (HPOPS) also have lobbyists and representatives in the capitol.  We work closely with these individuals during the session and are pleased with the relationships we have established.  HPOU and HPOPS  have an outstanding relationship are dedicated to keeping your earned benefit solid.

HPD and HPOU cannot support or propose any legislation that conflicts with our negotiated contract.

Local Elections

Soon after the legislative session ends, we will be electing a new mayor, comptroller and City Council. This election will occur on Nov. 3. The HPOU Political Action Committee (PAC) will be screening candidates during the year and will be only endorsing those who support police and a defined benefit pension that all police officers have earned.

The HPOU PAC consists of all of the HPOU Board of Directors as well as many non-board members from all ranks within the department.

We are certain to have a new mayor and comptroller since both are term-limited.  We also will see many new faces on council since many of them are term-limited as well.  The HPOU PAC endorsement is always sought by every individual running for these positions.

Thanks to all who contribute to PAC.  PAC PAYS DIVIDENDS!