HPD is coming under intense scrutiny after a recent report showed that the department is way under-staffed to handle a mounting case load. But after Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland’s statements this week, that’s clearly NOT the only problem. Here’s the story from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle…
Defending his department’s failure to investigate thousands of crimes last year, Police Chief Charles McClelland on Thursday said the understaffed Houston Police Department does not and should not have a goal of aggressively probing every crime reported to it.
“We work violent crimes first. If someone steals your trash can or your lawn mower out of your garage, there are no witnesses, there’s no evidence, there’s nothing for a detective to follow up on, it’s not assigned,” McClelland, a 37-year veteran of HPD, told City Council members during a budget hearing. “There has never been a time that I have been employed there that the Houston Police Department has had the capacity to investigate every crime that’s been reported to the agency.”
It was the chief’s first public comment since a city-commissioned study showed the department did not investigate 20,000 crimes with workable leads in 2013. The vast majority of the cases were burglaries and thefts, but also included 3,000 assaults and nearly 3,000 hit-and-runs.
Basically, Chief McClelland just admitted some cases will NEVER get investigated. The way he talks here, HPD could care less about a person’s apartment break-in and stolen TV, because apparently they’ve got more important things to do.
Sorry Chief, but this is unacceptable. All the time that our officers spend setting up speed traps around town, and sitting in one spot for hours to catch a couple of lead foot drivers? All the time they spend patrolling the same 5 blocks in Montrose to profile bar patrons or nab a petty drug bust, while cars and homes are getting robbed a couple of streets away? Surely there is a better way.
As a victim of police profiling myself, I simply have to call on HPD, Houston City Council and Mayor Annise Parker to not accept this answer. Of course no department will be perfect… as fellow blogger Off the Kuff states, we all understand that the realities of police work call for prioritization. But one would hope the police would always strive is to leave no stone unturned for the safety of all Houstonians. It’s a shame that the city’s top law enforcement officer doesn’t seem to agree. Houston deserves better than lowered expectations. I hope the police chief figures that out, or can devise a better way to explain what’s going on in the department. His current job and any future positions may depend on it.