Changes for mobility response team

August 26, 2009 9:07:12 PM PDT
We have the fallout after a 13 Undercover investigation and the hidden camera videos that exposed the mayor's prized traffic congestion fighting swat team. The city's mobility response team is facing suspensions, reprimands, and tighter scrutiny. All of that after a police investigation triggered by reporter Wayne Dolcefino and 13 Undercover.

It's the 13 Undercover video that angered our viewers and top police commanders too. One of the mayors prized mobility squad members failing to help a little old lady cross the street.

"It's unacceptable. I can't overemphasize how terrible that looks," said Asst. Chief Vicki King of the Houston Police Department.

Images after images of Houston mobility cops ignoring traffic hazards, making them worse, and adding to congestion by blocking moving lanes of traffic.

"Well that's where we have to park. There weren't any (spots) when we got here," said the MRT.

We saw these MRTs controlling a traffic light, but two more were sitting in the car.

On Wednesday, police announced the fallout.

"Since your story aired, we've made a number of significant improvements. I think the public will be pleased," said Asst. Chief King.

You'll now pay for satellite tracking phones for the officers so supervisors can know where they are.

"Where supervisors are going to come up on the scene with unmarked cars and sit back and observe what they are doing and how they are doing it," said Asst. Chief King.

That means no more eating during rush hours. We caught nearly half the squad eating wings for two hours during a snowstorm.

Traffic cops will now be dispatched from Transtar.

"We're working with Transtar officials right now so we can look at traffic tie-ups on our surface roads and not just our major thoroughfares," said Asst. Chief King.

Two police sergeants have now been given five day suspensions in the wake of our investigation, and mobility squad officers have been reprimanded by the chief. And it's not just because of our hidden camera video.

"You looked at the job that they were doing through an objective eye and the public responded," said Asst. Chief King.

The guy we saw ignoring that elderly woman? It turns out he was doing what he had been told to do which was apparently to stand there and keep traffic from going down a street completely blocked by traffic cones. Not to direct traffic as he should have or help pedestrians cross the street.

Remember the guys standing on a downtown corner for an hour not making a move to direct rush hour traffic?

"We've got better supervisory controls, we've put our supervisors on notice that this is their responsibility. We're also educating our mobility squad officers. Now they know that when they wear that uniform, you're in the public eye. Everybody's watching," said Asst. Chief King.

Including us.

You can see the hidden camera videos that prompted this police investigation through the links below:

13 Undercover mobile response team investigations

Part One: Mobile response team on hidden cameras
Part Two: Mobility officers' actions questioned
Part Three: Mobility response team's fuzzy math

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