The Houston Police Officers Union has endorsed Gene Locke for Mayor, and its members are working to help him win in the runoff.
On Wednesday the group released the statement below, saying that Parker has lost the support of police officers.
HPOU President Gary Blankinship is scheduled to hold a news conference Thursday morning at the union’s headquarters. Locke is expected to attend along with Stephanie Abernethy, the wife of HPD Officer Tim Abernethy who was killed in the line of duty in December 2008.
I am posting a news release sent to 2 On The Beat, and after the press event Thursday we’ll post reaction from the Parker campaign.
HOUSTON POLICE OFFICERS SAY THAT ANNISE PARKER HAS LOST THEIR SUPPORT AND CONFIDENCE
Houston, TX–The Houston Police Officers’ Union (HPOU) today criticized mayoral candidate Annise Parker and reiterated their support of Gene Locke, saying that Locke is the one who will be tough on crime and has a real plan to make Houston’s neighborhoods safer.
Gary Blankinship, president of the 5,000-plus member Houston Police Officers’ Union stated, “Our organization screened all the candidates and found Gene Locke to be, without equivocation, the only candidate to make the commitment to increase officers on the streets of our city and in the investigative divisions so that HPD officers can do a better job of protecting the people of Houston.
“By comparison, Annise Parker supports status quo. Her ill-advised positions on public safety embrace the kind of soft-on-crime approach that poses a threat to our families and neighborhoods,” continued Blankinship. “Now is not the time to turn back the clock to the 1980s, when police academies were halted and crime began to skyrocket, and our officers battled not just criminals, but a staffing shortage and lack of support from City Hall.”
Although HPOU has endorsed Parker in her previous campaigns, she has on several occasions been on the opposite side of Houston Police.
As a member of the City Council, Parker voted against adding a permanent anti-gang task force in every HPD substation[i].
In addition, Parker has publicly stated that if elected mayor she will “take apart the police department”[ii] and that Houston police officers are merely “report-takers and ticket-writers….not crime-solvers.”[iii] The irony of her position is that if we follow her plan and do nothing, there won’t be enough officers to take the reports much less conduct follow-up investigations.
Finally, during the endorsement screening process for the mayor’s race earlier this year, Parker made it clear that if elected mayor she would not work with HPD to put a halt to the current staffing shortage, thereby creating a dangerous public safety climate in Houston. Ms. Parker erroneously believes HPD has adequate staffing and ignores the fact that by best accounts of the administration of HPD we are 1,400 officers understaffed.
HPD is a proud organization with men and women who are dedicated to laying down their lives for their community. Our department would take great exception to being taken apart rather than doing what Houstonians want, which is to make our department effectively expand so that we can do the job that the citizens of our city expect and need.
“Sitting idle and not expanding the department to meet our citizens’ needs to be safe is a recipe for disaster. It is the equivalent of doing nothing,” said Blankinship.
Locke has repeatedly affirmed his support for increasing Houston’s police ranks through hiring of new cadets and adding experienced officers through lateral entry, which allows officers from other departments to bring their years of expertise to support public safety in Houston while reducing the city’s training burden. He has also advocated putting more police officers on the streets, equipping officers with advanced technology and placing more civilians in roles that do not require police officers’ extensive training and skills.
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[i] City Council Minutes, June 23, 1998
[ii] KPRC “Beyond the Headlines,” aired September 27, 2009
[iii] KROI 92.1 radio debate, September 26, 2009
PAID POLITICAL AD BY THE HOUSTON POLICE OFFICERS’ UNION
POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE