During the month of May of each year, fallen officers are honored at the local, state and national levels. While we honor those who have given all, we also focus on anyone killed the previous year. Tragically, in 2015 we lost Richard Martin. He became the 113th Houston police officer killed in the line of duty since 1860.
On May 1 and 2, TMPA provided the labor and resources for Concerns of Police Survivors to honor the 12 officers killed in Texas in 2015, which included Officer Martin. On May 1, the names were unveiled at the Austin Memorial, a wonderful tribute was given by Congressman Ted Poe, and a candlelight vigil ended the evening.
The following day on the steps of the Capitol in Austin, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recognized each of the fallen. The DPS and Austin Police Department provided for helicopter flyovers. Honor guards from across the state, including Houston, attended. Taps was played, a 21-gun salute was given, and the rider less horse honored those lost. A wreath was then placed at the memorial site, ending the tribute.
Similar ceremonies followed in Washington, D.C., where the names were placed on the national monument. The HPOU sent many officers from Houston to comfort the Martin family. Thanks to Tim Whitaker, Jeff Wagner, Terry Seagler and Don Egdorf for heading the ad hoc committee and to Congressman Brian Babin from Pasadena for arranging for a VIP tour of the Capitol. A special thanks to Tilman Fertitta for hosting a dinner for the Houston delegation at McCormick and Schmick’s and to former Police Chief McClelland for picking up the tab for the “adult beverages.”
On May 20, the Houston Police Department honored the fallen with our annual ceremony. Weather changed the location from the memorial site to the Fonde Rec Center. Many family members of the 113 killed in Houston were present for the ceremony and the reception at the HPOU prior to and after the ceremony.
Tyler Martin contacted Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and asked if he would join him at the ceremony. The lieutenant governor cleared his calendar and knocked it out of the park. Patrick and his security detail, along with two Texas Rangers, picked up Tyler at this home and escorted him to the HPOU and then the ceremony. Also joining in honoring our fallen were Sen. John Whitmire, Mayor Sylvester Turner, District Attorney Devon Anderson, Tax Assessor Mike Sullivan, and Councilmembers Christie, Stardig, Gallegos, Knox, Laster and Cisneros.
Thanks to Assistant Chief Vazquez, Sgt. James Armstrong and the HPD Honor Guard, HPOU’s Lisa Marino, and the HPROA for organizing the event, and thanks to all who came out to support the families of the fallen and to honor our 113.
Last Words on Beyoncé
I must admit that I do not know one song that Beyoncé sings, but she dominated interviews that I have given over the last few months. After the Super Bbowl performance of the Formation tour, many police groups came out asking for a boycott of her shows because the halftime performance was anti-police.
Many of our members asked if we were going to join the boycott. I watched the Super Bowl, but went out to do yardwork when it was halftime and did not watch the live performance. However, following the calls from our members, Doug Griffith, Joe Gamaldi and I watched the performance.
We all had different interpretations of the meaning. I then asked several officers to comment on the video and I got many, many different interpretations. Some said the persons were dressed as Black Panthers while others said they were police who were showing how departments are becoming militarized.
Some said Treyvon Martin was depicted in the video, but no police were involved in the Treyvon Martin shooting, so that was confusing. Some said the sinking police car meant that Beyoncé was larger than the police, but others disagreed.
The discussions sounded a lot like the ones I heard in high school when we were trying to determine the meaning of poetry in English class. Everyone had their own opinion.
Based on multiple opinions, the HPOU decided to remain out of the boycott mode until Beyoncé commented on what the video meant. At that time, I advised several media outlets that the HPOU was not going to do what some in the public do by jumping to conclusions about police without having all the facts.
I further stated that unless Beyoncé comes out and states that she believes police are the bad guys, violating persons’ rights, or hoping to shoot unarmed citizens, we were not going to be part of any boycott.
In April, Beyoncé finally commented. She stated, “Anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things.”
Beyoncé went on to say that her performances were part of her salute to African-American history and its various cultural aspects. She also explained that a major goal of her Formation tour was to express her brand of feminism and promote gender and racial equality.
The calls tapered off at the HPOU until the day before Beyoncé’s concert in Houston in May. A small police group in the Houston area stated that they were going to do a silent protest. Some claimed that Houston police officers were refusing to work security at the concert. I called the brass organizing the event and found that they were having no problems filling the slots for the extra jobs and no one had refused to work. This was a “story” that was completely blown out of proportion.
Isiah Carey from Fox26 contacted me and asked if he could give my comments on his Twitter. I paraphrased my comments above and he printed them, basically stating that our officers were providing security and we heard nothing about HPD officers refusing to work, and that we would not protest unless Beyoncé changed her official comments and started promoting the harming of officers.
At least one member of the HPOU believed that my comments were a “sellout.” I disagree and stand by my comments over the last several months regarding this “story.”
I hope this story ends because we truly have more pressing issues. Hopefully a simple fireworks show will be the entertainment at the next Super Bowl, which will be in Houston!