New HPD chief faces three main objectives

HOUSTON He takes over a department that's seen a drop in violent crime in recent years, but it's also struggling with budget problems.

In front of a supportive audience of city staffers and council members Wednesday, Mayor Annise Parker made what could possibly be the most important appointment of her term as mayor -- a new police chief.

"This is a chief who came up through the ranks," said Mayor Parker Wednesday. "He knows his way around the city. He's intimately familiar with every neighborhood in the city, and he will be out and accessible. He will be a very recognizable figure in the city."

Having been a part of the Houston Police Department for more than 32 years, Chief McClelland says he didn't initially set out with the goal of one day becoming the city's top cop.

"It was only my dream back in 1977 to commit to public service and making a difference in this community," he said.

But now that he is, the new chief has three main objectives:

  • Strengthen police community relationships
  • Improve internal communications
  • Better efficiency with processes and resources

    "I just think we can do a better job with the resources that we have," said McClelland.

    Chief McClelland says he expects to scrub through the entire police budget, and find savings at every point. He will need a police union willing to work with him in tough times. And so far, they are.

    "I'm very happy," said Houston Police Officers Union President Gary Blankinship. "Chief McClelland is a tenured guy, came up through the ranks. He's very well respected by the rank and file. I'm looking forward to working with him."

    Chief McClelland is a 32-year veteran of HPD. He's been an assistant chief since 1998. Before becoming the acting chief, McClelland was the head of the department's investigative operations, which includes robbery, homicide, and burglary divisions.

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