Mayor selects new police chief

HOUSTON The mayor has yet to make her choice official, but sources tell Eyewitness News Mayor Annisse Parker knows exactly who will take over for Police Chief Harold Hurtt, and it's a man who has been doing the job already.

Speaking in front of city council Tuesday, Mayor Parker tried to ramp down rumors that an announcement about a new police chief was imminent.

"We are not having any announcement today," she said. "I remain on track to name my police by the end of this month, but apparently there are some hot rumors floating around."

But it was Mayor Parker herself who told a Greater Houston Partnership meeting Monday that she's made up her mind. On Tuesday, multiple sources inside city hall says acting Chief Charles McClelland will officially get the job. The police union says it's been impressed by McClelland so far.

"It's been a breath of fresh air dealing with him. He's been very open, easy to talk to," said HPOU President Gary Blankinship. "We've worked on several problems together. He's been very fair, certainly not a pushover."

McClelland took over as acting chief when former Chief Harold Hurtt stepped down on December 30. Sources say both he and Executive Assistant Chief Tim Oettmeier were top contenders.

City Councilmember C.O. Bradford knows what it's like to run one of the largest police departments in the country. Bradford was Houston's top cop for seven years. He says there will be lots of challenges for the new chief.

"It's not an easy task at all," he said. "The fiscal issues, operational issues, which will be intertwined. There are issues confronting the department now that weren't there in past years. It's going to be a very difficult job."

As for what the new chief's priorities will be, the union has a simple answer.

"I think budget, budget, budget," said Blankinship.

The new chief will have a budget shortfall to face, and has to tackle it without compromising citizens' safety.

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