Last month I advised that the HPOU would not sit back quietly and have a less than quality body camera system implemented. We promised to educate our City Council members before the contract was approved.
We fulfilled our promise and praise the four councilmembers who sided with us and voted no.
Those voting no were Brenda Stardig, Clarence Bradford, Mike Laster and Michael Kubosh.
After a lot of arm twisting by the administration, the camera contract passed. I am confident those who voted yes did so because they know that their constituents want cameras and want them now.
Whether or not we get the best camera for the city of Houston was clearly not a concern. One councilmember stated, “I don’t want to be on the record as going against it (cameras) but I will go home and take a shower after I do it. The way this is being thrown down our throats without giving us the opportunity to vet this, I think it’s unconscionable.”
The cameras will be phased in over many months. We are told the first station will be Central.
As for the policy in the works, I want to praise Capt. Jim Jones and Lt Bradley Morefield for working with the HPOU to get a policy in place that is fair to the public and fair to our police officers.
As of this writing, we are very close to a fair policy.
Now let’s get back to the cameras and how we got the product that council approved on Nov. 18.
As I stated last month, someone at HPD made a request to TASER in early 2014 for information regarding body cameras. TASER sent that proposal to HPD for 4,000 cameras to be delivered to HPD in January 2015. No one wants to take responsibility for that request, but we know it happened.
After that proposal was sent in by TASER, the city issued a request for proposal (RFP) and we are told that 12 companies responded. A committee (we still do not know who was on it) selected two cameras that would be tested in the field, Watchguard and Wolfcom.
Each company provided cameras for testing and then made presentations to the City of Houston. Two other companies that sent in proposals have contacted me after last month’s article and advised that they never heard anything back from the city and one even stated that they left messages with no return call.
Now here’s the kicker: While typing this article, I called and spoke with the gentleman from Wolfcom who made the presentation to the Houston procurement folks and the participants in the testing process. HE FOUND OUT FROM ME THAT HE DID NOT GET THE CONTRACT!
He advised that he did not get called back after his presentation and has left several messages with no return calls. This is how the largest city in Texas conducts business???
After choosing the two cameras to be tested, 23 persons were chosen to use both cameras in the field. I have been able to speak to 18 of those persons and the overwhelming sentiment was that more choices would have been a better evaluation. Several stated that it appeared that one decent camera was put up against a horrible camera leading to a clear decision, even if it was the “lesser of two evils,” as one officer stated.
Remember, no one appointed by the HPOU was involved in the testing program or the drafting of the policy. Our chief of police and mayor were completely unaware that we were not involved. Both, however, pushed for this camera contract to be approved in response to the public.
We were not opposed to the cameras, but are still concerned that this camera was not put up against the camera that every other major city with cameras is using, TASER. Watchguard may be the answer, but with Houston Independent School District police with just over 200 cameras being their biggest client, we are concerned.
As stated last month, if this is the way the City of Houston has to procure products, it’s no wonder we are in the shape we are in. Only time will tell if this will be another mess like RMS.
Vote Sylvester Turner
By the time you read the article, early voting in the runoff is ending and your only chance to vote for our next mayor will be on Election Day, Saturday, Dec. 12. The HPOU PAC has endorsed Sylvester Turner for mayor.
We are asking that you urge any family members or friends who lives in the City of Houston to vote on Dec. 12. Representative Turner has a proven track record on supporting police and our earned pension benefits.
Representative Turner graduated valedictorian from Klein High School, completed his undergraduate work at the University of Houston and graduated from Harvard Law School. He has been a champion for law enforcement for over 25 years in the Texas legislature. He has worked at the state level to write, evaluate and balance our state budget.
We also ask that you vote for our endorsed incumbent candidates in the runoff council positions. Those include District F Richard Nguyen, District J Mike Laster, At-Large 2 David Robinson, and At-Large 5 Jack Christie.
The PAC has also endorsed HPD Officer Jason Cisneroz for District H, Georgia Provost for At-Large 1, and Chris Brown for City Controller.
Don’t forget to vote Saturday, Dec. 12 and encourage family and friends to do the same!