I’m from Texas. Born and raised in Brazoria County, south of Houston. I want to first dispel the stereotypes that many from outside our state hold where everyone in Texas owns an oil well, we drive Cadillacs with big horns on the hood, and all our law enforcement folks are like Yosemite Sam or Wyatt Earp.
In fact, Texas is the second-most diverse state in the nation, second only to California, and has over two-hundred-fifty different cultures and dialects.
I was brought up with a strong respect for law enforcement, and it was a natural move when I entered a law enforcement career field. At a young age, and based on my Texas upbringing, I always thought that our police chiefs and sheriffs stood strongly with their departments, backing their officers and deputies to the hilt, and never wavering.
I had no idea that police chiefs and sheriffs even had a political affiliation, as in my naïve opinion then, and my experienced opinion now, political leanings or party affiliation has absolutely nothing to do with police work.
Or it shouldn’t. I’m sorry to say that over the years, especially in three major cities in Texas, my understanding has been changed into a fairy tale notion.
I’m speaking specifically about Houston, Austin, and Dallas. Strong leaders previously serving have given way to more “progressive” administrators, ones who are more interested in playing politics and being an apologist for their respective departments.
I was shocked to hear about the divisiveness strewn forth by Art Acevedo, Houston’s Police Chief. Five officers were shot or otherwise injured during a search warrant execution at a known drug trafficking location. I cringe every time I hear about an officer injured in the line of duty, but this scenario has a special twist.
Joseph Gamaldi, the spokesman for the Houston Police Union, had strong words that rang true for so many of us. He called out many city, county, state, and national leaders for their horrible narratives and agendas that easily normalize violence against police officers.
These leaders have made public comments, many of them incredibly inaccurate and premature to an investigation, and their words have served to give some in our communities a sense of entitlement and righteousness in wielding violence and disrespect toward the police community.
Mr. Gamaldi said what we were all thinking. Don’t help, in any way, to normalize violence against cops. Don’t run away with false narratives, like “hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe”, especially doing so to incite hate for political purposes.
Now, we aren’t just worrying about what our political leaders say. Some of our police chiefs have become political leaders in their own right, and as evidenced by Art Acevedo’s comments against Mr. Gamaldi, the chief became more of a public apologist and embraced protestors instead of his own officers. He had the chance to support his crew and he blew it. And he did it because of his political leanings.
This is certainly not the first time that Chief Acevedo has expressed view contrary to the common core of the police community. He has called for gun control measures that clearly push against the Second Amendment. He clearly gives more credence to street criminals that he does his own officers and leadership within the department.
Just like clockwork, within days of this warrant action and officers being shot, a direct message hit Houston PD saying, “I’m glad those pigs were shot. Hopefully your [sic} next. I hope you have a year of absolute terror. I hope cops are murdered every day this year so you know true fear. Hopefully those pigs die.”
Acevedo responded with a typical lukewarm statement, talking about an ugly world and dark hearts. Again, he had the chance to take a public stand, and he played psychologist.
Austin’s Chief Brian Manly holds the liberal line as well as if he carries a flag for the “colonization” by liberal elites from California as they descend like a swarm of locusts into Austin and the surrounding area.
His predecessor, Art Acevedo commented after the arrest of a jogger that “Cops are actually committing sexual assaults on duty.” He later apologized after significant pressure, but the notion of making a statement like that to begin with shows his leanings toward liberal politics instead of supporting the officers in his department. Chief Acevedo is maintaining the weak policies in Houston that were his hallmark in Austin.
Dallas had a great chief in David Brown. Chief Brown was born and raised in the tough neighborhoods in Central Dallas and worked his way through the ranks. His handling of the aftermath of the mass shooting were several officers lost their lives was remarkable. Instead of caving to criticism, he challenged those criticizing his officers to test, apply, and don the uniform.
Brown was replaced last fall by Renee Hall. While she has good credentials, one only has to look at Detroit, a city that has been devastated by horrible police and economic policies, causing the city to degrade from a shining star in the automotive and trade industries to a crime-ridden city with few jobs and poor housing.
This new chief has come to Dallas with the mindset that many Detroiters carry – have the citizens lean on government handouts and make do as they can. She has already agreed to allow more civilian oversight in her department, it appears solely based on pressure from groups like Black Lives Matters. The contrast between Hall and Brown is night and day and doesn’t bode well for Dallas police officers.
I didn’t write this article just to take pot shots at three police chiefs. I want to emphasize the idea that every officer or deputy has the ability to support or vote for their chief or sheriff with their W-2 statement. If a chief or sheriff in a town small or large doesn’t support their officers as you think they should, network with your fellow officers and go where you’re supported and treated right.
Your very life, and the lives and success of your families depend on their leadership.
You must consider their public words and deeds as they impact the community and surrounding state. Ask yourself if they’re helping you or hurting you. Does an apologist attitude show cowardice to protestors and give them empowerment? Do political affiliations interfere with the ethics and morals of the department? Do their comments and actions impact morale?
I had a great conversation with a friend from my home county who is now an officer in a beach village community. We agreed that some police officers/deputies feel stuck in an area or city because of family ties and other things like that. I ask this rhetorical question – if you could move thirty miles away and work for someone who strongly supported you and was a good leader, versus staying where you are now, is thirty miles that far a drive to go visit mom and dad?
In closing, I urge you not to take a position out of convenience. I don’t think these political issues were present or prevalent thirty or forty years ago. This is something new that you must consider before joining a department.
Is there a strong leader in place, who supports their department in an unwavering manner? Or do the policies enacted by a weak, apologist political operative compromise the safety and security of the police community?
I never thought politics would play a role in police work, but now it does, and it could mean the difference in life and death, and certainly job satisfaction.