South Houston Police Chief Herbert Gilbert says he's being forced out of the job

Chief Herbert Gilbert, South Houston police chief, will get to keep his job.

July 7, 2012 4:45:52 AM PDT
The future of South Houston's police department is uncertain after its police chief says he's being forced out.

Chief Herbert Gilbert says he was blindsided by the mayor and he never thought he'd face removal from office. Now he is considering getting an attorney and deciding whether to fight for his job.

Every day for nearly nine years, Chief Gilbert has put on this uniform as chief of the South Houston Police Department. He's been wearing it as an officer with the department for the last 22 years.

"I laid my life on the line for that city," said Chief Gilbert.

Just yesterday, Chief Gilbert says South Houston Mayor Joe Soto asked him to resign. He refused.

"If I've slipped up, nobody's told me," the chief said.

Chief Gilbert says the mayor insisted he will then be removed from office at a City Council meeting next Tuesday night.

"I'm hurt, and I have to catch myself. My hurt is going into anger," he said.

The chief claims Mayor Soto blames him for traffic ticket revenues being lower than previous years. Chief Gilbert in turn points fingers at the city for cutting the number of officers on the street who could give tickets.

"I'm not gonna set quotas. That's totally against the law," Chief Gilbert told us.

He insists the mayor is upset also because he refused to reprimand officers based solely on verbal complaints.

Eyewitness News attempted repeatedly to offer Mayor Soto an opportunity to talk about these allegations, even going to his home. He has not responded.

According to published reports, Mayor Soto has said the City Council is to vote Tuesday on whether to retain the chief. In those articles, the mayor said he cited a lack of confidence in Chief Gilbert. After 22 years on the force, the last nine as chief, he told us, "I don't totally buy the two reasons he gave me. There's got to be more to it."

Chief Gilbert says he deserves better reasons for his removal. He is deciding whether he should retire before he is effectively demoted back to a sergeant. He says he can't afford the paycut of $15,000 to $20,000 a year if he were to accept the demotion.

Again, repeated calls and emails to the mayor and City Council Friday night were not answered.

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