Editorial LiveJournalists blast union for exercising speech rights

The Chronicle's Editorial LiveJournalists are very upset today that a local police union would have the audacity to exercise First Amendment rights to criticize Mayor White's embattled, bumbling police chief:

Instead of serving the citizens of Houston, the union is engaged in a fear-mongering campaign that will damage the image of the city, frighten visitors and unnecessarily alarm residents and suburban neighbors.

The city's image will be harmed by talking to Houstonians about rising violent crime, the problem-plagued dispatch center, the manpower shortage, and the soft-on-crime police chief's no-chase policy (and not by the problems themselves)?

A newspaper editorial board actually thinks we shouldn't be discussing such important issues because said discussion might harm the city's image?

Wow. That's even more of a stunner than we usually get from the Editorial LiveJournalists. But their attitude that we shouldn't talk about the city's problems (which prevailed through the disastrous Brown administration, when many of these problems were birthed) is typical of a newspaper editorial board that has largely abdicated any sort of serious watchdog role in the city in favor of occasional blasts at favorite "bad guys" (like John Culberson, Tom DeLay, and Chuck Rosenthal).

The Editorial LiveJournalists also don't think much of the survey commissioned by the other police union earlier this summer:

The larger Houston Police Officer’s Association this summer unveiled an unscientific poll of police officers and has used it as a weapon to bash HPD administrators.

That should be the Houston Police Officers' Union. As Matt Bramanti pointed out earlier, the editorial got the names of both police officer unions wrong, but the newspaper has since corrected those errors in the online copy (without an explanation, of course).

Interestingly, KRIV-26's Isiah Carey reported back in August that HPD commissioned an independent survey of HPD that it received in April that was consistent with the findings in HPOU's survey. I have a public information request in to HPD for a copy of that survey, but the request has not been acknowledged as of today, so I can't really comment on a survey I haven't seen for myself (beyond noting Carey's earlier reporting).

Alexis Grant reports today that some Councilmembers were not impressed with Chief Hurtt telling them they were really just too confused to understand his brilliant chase-policy revision:

"I don't think the policy is confusing or that the problem is that we don't understand it," said Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck. "I think the problem is that we completely disagree with it."

Just keep on digging deeper there, Chief Hurtt. You're really starting to win 'em over now!

Incidentally, it's worth noting once again Matt Stiles' excellent analysis from this story:

Police Chief Harold Hurtt's proposal, set for a hearing Monday at City Hall, would restrict his officers from engaging in lengthy pursuits when a fleeing motorist's only known crime is a Class C misdemeanor, such as a traffic violation.

That was the reason officers gave for almost half the chases recorded in the past year and a half. Yet when those chases ended and suspects were questioned, 40 percent said they fled to avoid arrest for felonies, drug possession or driving while intoxicated, according to a department database obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

Those are a lot of bad guys who would still be on the streets under the soft-on-crime police chief's new policy.

As Matt Stiles also reported on Sunday, Mayor White "hasn't taken a firm position" on the issue. Still.

Since we know that negative publicity sometimes jars him to action, maybe the billboard ads will get his attention. It certainly worked with the Editorial LiveJournalists.


Posted by Kevin Whited @ 09/12/06 10:00 PM | Print |

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