Female officer takes on HPD

October 9, 2008 5:24:20 PM PDT
A Houston police officer is taking on the department over an incident between her and her former boyfriend -- another Houston police officer. She claims she reached out to the department for help about an abusive relationship, and was punished for it.

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt is an outspoken advocate for domestic violence victims. He even participated in a public service announcement about it back in 2005, yet as much as Houston's top cop professes his support for abuse survivors, one of Hurtt's own officers is calling her boss' sincerity into question.

"She goes from being victimized in a personal relationship to essentially being victimized by the chief of police himself," said attorney Aaron Suder.

Suder is representing a female Houston police officer who Chief Hurtt involuntarily transferred from her assignment as a juvenile sex crimes investigator after she reported an abusive relationship with her ex boyfriend, a fellow HPD officer with whom she shared a home in Pearland.

"Shocked and dismayed, I think, would be an accurate statement of what her reaction was," said Suder. "She couldn't understand what it is they were saying she did wrong by reporting the incident to them."

According to an HPD memo, Hurtt believed the officer failed to show sound judgment when she "engaged in inappropriate behavior and altercations..that resulted in responses by Pearland police officers," who were called to the couple's home several times over a three year period. He concluded that her actions brought discredit to the department.

The officer disagreed, filed a grievance, and won. The city has since filed an appeal, challenging the arbitrator's opinion who criticized Chief Hurtt for abusing his discretion and treating the two officers, according to his report, like a pair of quibbling siblings.

"We think the chief has a right in how he runs his department to place the officers where they need to be and that's why we filed the lawsuit," city of Houston Attorney Arturo Michel told us.

Michel says Chief Hurtt still strongly supports domestic abuse victims' rights, despite his decision. The officer's attorney begs to differ.

"Here you have a decision that completely flies in the face of everything he has professed publicly," said Suder.

The officer was also suspended for a day. Her attorney isn't backing down. He's sending a letter to the mayor's office and members of Houston city council in an effort to make them aware of what's happening.

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