HOUSTON – After a shooting injured five Houston police officers earlier this week, Chief Art Acevedo called the union president’s fiery response to the attack “over the top” during a press conference on Thursday.
The shooting, which left four officers shot, another injured, and two suspects dead in a confrontational drug raid in southeast Houston on Monday, was among the most violent incidents for Houston police in recent history, reported Houston Chronicle.
During a Monday night press conference, Union President Joe Gamaldi made an emotional call to end police shootings. Then he took aim at “the ones out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy.”
“Well just know that we’ve all got your number now,” Gamaldi said. “We’re going to be keeping track of all of y’all, and we’re gonna make sure that we hold you accountable every time you stir the pot on our police officers.”
The union president appeared on Fox & Friends just two days later and doubled down on those comment. Gamaldi called out “activists who have severely made our officers the enemy. They’ve put targets on our backs,” he said.
Acevedo delivered an update on the shooting on Thursday evening, and he responded to criticism and so-called conspiracy theories about the incident. Moreover, he believed Gamaldi’s comments were the center of much of the fallout.
“Quite frankly, I think a big part of it is because Joe Gamaldi’s emotions got the best of him … and he just went off a little bit over the top over there — a lot over the top if you ask me,” Acevedo said. “Which brings me to this, Joe Gamaldi doesn’t run the police department. I do.”
Acevedo went on to say that activists and the police department should not be painted with a broad brush “because of one guy’s comments.”
Gamaldi responded on Twitter when he heard about his chief’s criticism.
“I was just at City Council defending @houstonpolice budget, [and] while doing so, I was told I was being thrown under the bus at a news conference,” Gamaldi said in his tweet. “Sad state of affairs when defending [the] reputation of the brave men and women of law enforcement is frowned upon by a few.”
I was just at City Council defending @houstonpolice budget, while doing so, I was told I was being thrown under the bus at a news conference. Sad state of affairs when defending reputation of the brave men and women of law enforcement is frowned upon by a few. #EnoughIsEnough
— Joe Gamaldi (@JoeGamaldi) January 31, 2019
Gamaldi was retweeting people who showed support for his words, including other police association leaders.
“There is no time for political correctness when people are trying to MURDER police officers!” said Anthony White, the vice president for the Fort Worth Police Officer’s Association. “Terrible move, @ArtAcevedo. @JoeGamaldi stood up for his officers at the right time and said what many officers feel about society.”
The San Francisco Police Officer’s Association also chimed in on Twitter, saying Gamaldi “said what needed to be said.”
“He was protecting the membership he represents and all of law enforcement,” the association’s tweet read. “Too many times department heads (aka Chiefs) fold under political pressure. Joe did not go too far. You go Joe!”
HPOU President Joe Gamaldi @JoeGamaldi stated what needed to be said. He was protecting the membership he represents and all of law enforcement. Too many times department heads (aka Chiefs) fold under political pressure. Joe did not go too far. You go Joe! https://t.co/UG8UQ71s34
— San Francisco POA (@SanFranciscoPOA) February 1, 2019
Gamaldi continued to emphasize police officer deaths on Friday, despite a decrease in the number of law enforcement deaths nationwide in the last four years, according to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
While violent crime in US continues to fall, the deaths of police by gunfire has been up the last 5 years compared to 2013. The violence against law enforcement in this country needs to end.Please keep the brave men/women of law enforcement in your prayers #EnoughIsEnough @GLFOP pic.twitter.com/phuRSlzPFk
— Joe Gamaldi (@JoeGamaldi) February 1, 2019
In 2014, 148 officers died compared to 129 in 2017, the latest available year in the data. Gamaldi pointed to an increase compared to 2013, when 120 officers died. However, that was the lowest figure for police officer deaths in the last 60 years, the data shows.