Houston may not be in Hurtt's future

May 18, 2009 4:09:14 PM PDT
He took the helm at a time when city leaders were calling for change in the police department.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

After controversial red light cameras, debate over how to protect innocent drivers during chases and facing an officer shortage head on, Houston Police Department Chief Harold Hurtt is contemplating his future which may not be in Houston.

We know a transition is in store for the city of Houston when Mayor Bill White reaches the end of his term limit. The question remains whether or not Chief Hurtt will continue to lead the department? One thing we do know is that he's considering other job options.

Chief Hurtt is not speaking publicly about his future plans, but is said to be a finalist for the chief's job in San Francisco. While he reportedly told Mayor White he'd stay until the end of his administration, some say the department is more than ready for a change.

When the new chief stepped in as Houston's top cop five years ago, he walked into a virtual hornet's nest. There was a crime lab in crisis, a botched mass arrest in a K-Mart parking lot and decaying morale amongst the rank and file. In February 2007, Chief Hurtt told Eyewitness News in an exclusive interview there is never a dull moment in his job.

While the police ranks have grown, crime has dropped and the homicide rate has stabilized during Hurtt's tenure. However Union president Gary Blankinship says it won't be a sad day for Houston if and when he leaves. It's no secret the two have had their differences.

"One thing I can say is we've always had dialogue," Blankinship told us. "The chief has been pretty insistent on that. I think that's an attribute."

While the union credits Chief Hurtt for changing discipline procedures and introducing Tasers, his decision to do so was heavily scrutinized and the subject of much public debate. Questions were raised whether or not officers were following protocol in using them.

No matter the issue, the League of United Latin American Citizens credited Hurtt for his ability to reach out to the community.

"It was always, 'Come in, I'm getting the news like you are, let's get the news together, let's get the report from my people and let's see what we need to do,'" said Rick Dovalina of the League Of United Latin American Citizens.

Chief Hurtt has been quoted as saying his only regret is that he never went further with the DNA crime lab but that efforts are moving forward to get more funding.

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