Council Member Bradford wrote this article about Houston’s $100 million budget problem. Before I discuss his ideas, I first want to say THANK YOU to him for talking about this problem and looking for solutions. You may not agree with everything that he wrote, but talking about “exercising good fiscal stewardship”, providing “relief for businesses and citizens”, and “delivery of core services” is always a plus in my book.
In his article, CM Bradford says the following:
“it is time to designate certain business centers, apartment complexes and neighborhoods as police foot-and-bike patrol zones. Foot-and-bike patrol officers would increase police visibility and create more contact with residents. That type of interaction leads to enhanced communication between police and the public, which in turns leads to increased trust, which leads to the exchange of information. It is exactly this sort of information that police officers need to solve and prevent crimes. Additionally, foot-and-bike patrols would increase department efficiencies due to savings on vehicle operational and maintenance costs, not to mention that more physically fit officers would reduce health care costs, a win-win situation. And to determine how many police officers and firefighters Houston needs, we must conduct a work demand analysis for both HPD and HFD. Also, this analysis will help us answer that question about the need for more two-officer units in the field. Lastly, we must not forget about the hundreds of other city employees who are in the field daily. We need to provide orientation and field-observation training for them and permit them to fulfill their role in the safety services equation also.”
I completely agree! However, CM Bradford is the former Chief of Police; therefore he should know that city council doesn’t really control many of HPD’s day-to-day operations. Think of it like the US Military. The president (or mayor) can control a lot, and the US Senate (or City Council) can vote to give the military money and some other items, but the day-to-day operations is handled by the Department of Defense – Robert Gates – and other commanding officers (Chief of Police and other HPD supervisors).
My point here is that if CM Bradford wanted to see certain changes in HPD, why were they not done when he was Chief of Police and in a position to make those changes? An example is when he says that it “is time to designate certain business centers, apartment complexes and neighborhoods as police foot-and-bike patrol zones”. If he wanted more foot-and-bike patrol zones, why didn’t he do more of that when he could? If the police chief wants a certain area to be patrolled by foot, city council does not necessarily need to give their permission.
It is true that HPD (and HFD) and city council need to work cooperatively, but they also need to get real about what needs to be done about the budget. See my ideas here. So while I appreciate CM Bradford’s realization that something needs to be done, I think that something should have been done when he was in a position to do so. That was just one item that stuck out at me. Please do read his article because a lot of it should be taken into consideration.