Archive for June 5th, 2014

Today the Chron E-Board pretty much rips the way HPD is being managed. They throw out phrases like “something is wrong at the top” and “different set of skills is needed to manage.” It is a pretty scathing take on the Police Chief. They are saying that the Chief needs to be shown the door so why don’t they just come out and ask for the Mayor to fire the chief? Nobody is really going to get upset if they do. Maybe they are just laying the ground work so to speak. Here is today’s E-board take:

Three weeks ago, this editorial board called for an outside inspector to take a look at the Houston Police Department. In the wake of reports about HPD’s homicide department ignoring cases, it was clear that Houston’s police suffered from a management problem and needed third-party help.

That call was met by an angry police chief, an offended police union president and a silent mayor.

Those homicide problems were just the tip of the iceberg, followed by news of a long-broken case management system that allowed supervisor breakdowns to slip through the cracks.

But you could practically hear the blood pressure shoot up across the city as Chronicle readers learned that HPD last year did not investigate approximately 20,000 burglary, theft, assault and hit-and-run cases, despite workable leads (“20,000 HPD cases went unworked,” Page A1, Tuesday).

Scandals like these do not occur overnight. How is it possible that Police Chief Charles McClelland has not been ringing the alarm all this time? Instead, we’ve had to wait for a report initiated by City Hall.

Something is wrong at the top, and this management failure does a disservice to the uniformed officers who keep Houston safe. Those officers may do an excellent job policing our streets, but a different set of skills is needed to manage an organization with a nine-figure budget.

We reiterate: HPD needs a third-party management review. The most recent report was not enough, recommending staffing changes and Segways for airport officers.

The big piece of advice at the end was more funds for more police officers to investigate those 20,000 ignored crimes. That isn’t what we are talking about. HPD’s internal management needs a hard analysis, but it feels like the only third-party advice that HPD wants to hear is “give them more money.”

Experience has demonstrated that money will not solve the problem. Over the last decade, HPD has seen its budget grow from $468 million to $722 million – not including the cost of the crime lab and neighborhood protection departments. In that time, HPD actually lost more than 100 officers. So where did the funds go? That is the question that City Hall needs to answer before it cuts another check to HPD’s questionable management.

There is also the issue of whether Houston’s budget could handle any additional officers. Without changes to HPD’s internal finances, adding 800 new officers – not even the requested 1,500 – would cost at least $80 million. With the city’s meet and confer contract with the Houston Police Officers’ Union expiring in June 2015, expect the cost of HPD to grow even higher. That’s just more money to burden Houstonians, who already are feeling the weight of skyrocketing property tax payments.

Meanwhile, growing pension obligations and debt upkeep act as a pipeline that sucks funds for new recruits and sends them to officers long retired.

So before City Hall helps HPD’s budget inch closer to the $1 billion mark, Houstonians need to be assured that their public dollars are being spent wisely. That means a budget managed by leaders who use every bit of expertise available to run a large business today.

Yesterday, Lisa Falkenberg also had a take on the management of the police department. I don’t know what the Mayor is thinking on this but don’t look for her to show the Chief the door. The police department is one of the biggest chunks of the budget and the public safety issue is always the cornerstone of why folks run for H-Town mayor. Firing the police chief is an admission that you kind of got it wrong on your choice of public safety leadership and would put a huge hit on her legacy. I am figuring she is going to ride it out for now. After all, if she did dump the Chief, she would have to bring in someone from the outside and who wants to be chief for 18 months or so. She really doesn’t have a choice.

Your move Chron E-Board.

I was wrong the other day. Jon Singleton won’t be wearing the numero 13. He’s wearing the numero 28. Name the starter for the ‘Stros that wore the 28 from 2002 – 2007?

Yesterday the Taliban put out a video of the Bergdahl swap and CNN gave it the Zapruder treatment. Oh brother!

Close to 24,000 showed up last night. Today is a 6 pm start with dollar dogs.

Shortstop Adam Everett of course wore the numero 28 from 2002 – 2007.

Hopefully tonight is the last time we get the first pick of the MLB Amateur Player Draft.

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