Odd police priorities for White/Hurtt

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KHOU-11’s Jeremy Rogalski has done some excellent reporting on more funding problems within HPD, raising serious questions about the training and equipment in traffic accident investigation:

“It’s just terrible,” said Sam, one recent HPD accident investigator, who wished to remain anonymous. “If we ask for equipment they say well you didn’t have it last year, why do you need it this year?”

And so Sam says officers are forced to dip into their own pockets to buy cameras, measuring wheels, even laptop computers that work because the city-issued gear often doesn’t.

“We’re just not in a position right now to buy everything that we need,” said Police Chief Harold Hurtt, who took the job in March.

When asked if he sees a problem in assigning someone to do a job and not giving him the basic tools to do that job?

“Well, I don’t know if we’re not giving them the basic tools to do that job,” said Hurtt.

But HPD, at one point, investigators tell us, wouldn’t even buy spray paint to mark up a scene — spray paint that costs just a few bucks a can.

And that’s not all.

“Some officers are spenindg thousands of dollars to get their own training,” said Sam. “It’s been the norm for several, several years.”

And frustrated cops have put it in writing, like a blistering letter to the police chief and others in which an officer wrote, “I’m appalled that our department is not willing to equip or train officers in the Traffic Division … proper fatality investigations should be one of the top priorities.”

Chief Hurtt has managed to convince City Council to spend $5 million on Tasers, and Mayor White’s priorities include spending millions on a downtown park.

Meanwhile, one of the most basic functions of any municipality — police protection — continues to suffer from underfunding and misplaced priorities from the dynamic duo of Hurtt and White.

Rogalski’s full interview with Chief Hurtt is located here. Note that the police chief is still uniformless. Perhaps passing a test so he can wear the HPD uniform isn’t a priority of our chief. Who knows, maybe he’s not planning on staying in Houston much longer.

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