When it comes to your social media posts, let’s hear those words of wisdom to all officers: BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!

If you haven’t been paying attention to what is going on around the country, there is not a week that goes by that police officers aren’t getting in trouble, losing their jobs (Philadelphia, Dallas, Border Patrol, to name a few) for posting something on social media that they shouldn’t have.

There are media groups and investigative journalism teams that have made it their mission to identify police officers on social media (yes, even if you use a fake name, they can find you), track IP addresses and gain access to private Facebook groups. Please keep in mind, private Facebook groups are NOT private. Just assume that anything said in any private Facebook group is public. Once these groups find you on social media, they begin tracking your comments, likes, shares, etc., to try to find something they can use against you.

I say all this to tell you to be careful out there on social media. Read every post three times before you post it. If you don’t want to see it on the cover of the newspaper or on the evening news, then I probably wouldn’t post it. Don’t get suckered into back and forth arguments with people you don’t know, as that exchange could then be used against you at a later date.

This is the new tactic to sully the reputation of our profession across the country. No one should be giving these people ammunition against us. We are 100 percent in control of what we post on social media and we all need to be careful that we don’t feed them exactly what they are looking for to hurt us.

Recruit, Recruit, Recruit

The HPOU has once again successfully lobbied for 375 police officers to be hired this fiscal year. We were able to add 100 police officers over attrition last fiscal year. If we can fill the classes this year, that is an easily attainable goal. This keeps us on track for our “Drive for 500” commitment that we had the mayor and City Council sign in January 2018.

We hear the complaints from every station and division across the Department which is why we at the HPOU fight so hard every year to make sure we secure the funding to grow the department to a size befitting the fourth largest city in America. We are seeing the fruits of our labors, but we all need to keep pushing.

The difficulty of recruiting is real. Law enforcement applications are down 63 percent in this country, and we are not immune to it here in Houston. Now, it’s true that Recruiting does a phenomenal job finding qualified applicants for the academy, but the very best recruiters are all of us!

Talk to your friends, family, community members, church goers, whoever you think would be a good police officer. Talk about the great benefits of being a Houston police officer. It is incumbent upon all of us to find the next generation of HPD police officers and get them through the door. Ultimately, they will be our backup on the streets. They will be the ones that will help with the crippling caseloads detectives currently have.

Remember that you can receive $2,000 from the department for mentoring someone who is interested in joining the department and we at the HPOU will also put you in a drawing to win another $2,000 per cadet that you officially mentor. This is a huge financial benefit, with the added bonus of mentoring the next generation.

So please, recruit, recruit, recruit!

HPOU Elections 

It’s that time of year again for the HPOU elections. For anyone that is interesting in running, the following board positions are up this cycle: President, 3rd Vice President, Secretary and these numbered director positions – 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19 and 20. Sign up in timely fashion. Filing will open Sept. 3 and will close at 10 a.m. Oct. 4. The election will then begin at noon on Oct. 7 and run through noon on Oct. 21. Voting will take place online at our website www.hpou.org as in years past.

As always, be safe out there and if you need anything I am only a phone call away, text, or you can also reach me at the following: email (jgamaldi@hpou.org), messenger on Facebook, DM on Twitter (@JoeGamaldi).