Looking back at moments from Chief Acevedo's career as he leaves Houston

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Monday, March 15, 2021
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A lot has happened since Chief Art Acevedo arrived in Houston in 2016. Here's a look back at some of those moments.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo was sworn into office on Nov. 30, 2016. Now four and a half years later, he's setting out on a new venture, taking the reigns as top cop in Miami.

Acevedo's tenure has been marked by several big events, ranging from joyous moments for the city of Houston to darker times such as officers killed in the line of duty. Acevedo has also been criticized for his handling of some incidents.

Since Acevedo arrived in Houston, he said 160 officers have retired, were fired or resigned amid misconduct allegations. That was as of June 2018.

One of the most recent high-profile retirements came after an HPD sergeant's social media post with racial overtones.

While this is not an exhaustive list of all of the moments during Acevedo's tenure, here is a look back at some of the most notable times of his career.


Hurricane Harvey: Acevedo had been on the job nearly a year when the storm slammed Houston, resulting in more than 2,000 rescue missions after Harvey made landfall on the central Texas coast.

Acevedo's officers were part of the efforts to rescue thousands of stranded drivers and residents as homes flooded. Sadly, HPD lost one of its own.

"Our biggest fear when Harvey was about to hit, and we talked about that right there in that conference room, was losing one of our own, and sadly, we did," Acevedo said in 2017 referring to Houston Police Sgt. Steve Perez, who drowned in his car while trying to report to work.

SEE ALSO: Couple married by Houston police lieutenant after wedding canceled because of Harvey

Two World Series and a Super Bowl: Acevedo was in charge of the police department through historic times for the city when it came to sports. In 2017, the Astros became World Series champions. In 2018, they lost to the Boston Red Sox, and in 2019, lost the World Series to the Washington Nationals.

During at least one of those times, Acevedo had to make good on a wager because Houston lost.

But before any of that, Houston was on the map in early 2017 because of the Super Bowl featuring the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.

After the game, two major issues came to light. The first was that Tom Brady's Super Bowl jersey went missing. Acevedo tweeted at the time that it was eventually traced to Mexico with the help of the FBI and Mexican authorities. The second incident involved NFL player Michael Bennett, who was accused of injuring a 66-year-old paraplegic working security when he rushed the field.

Change in the department: Toward the end of the year in 2017, Acevedo introduced the "pit" maneuver, a technique that allows officers to use their patrol cars to immobilize fleeing vehicles, especially during a chase.


Tackling domestic violence cases: To start this year, Acevedo pledged to crack down on domestic violence cases. This was after a mother was kidnapped, choked and killed by the father of her two children.

Santa Fe High School shooting: Rarely one to shy away from speaking his mind, Acevedo took to social media to express strong feelings about the Santa Fe High School shooting and the hope that elected officials would take action. "This isn't a time for prayers, and study and inaction," he said at the time on Facebook. "It's a time for prayers, action and the asking of God's forgiveness for our inaction, especially the elected officials that ran to the cameras today, acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing."

Acevedo was also tapped as a member of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's anti-gun violence council.


Harding Street Raid: Acevedo has been widely criticized by lawmakers and activists for the handling of the Harding Street raid, where a couple was killed inside their home. During the incident, officers were serving a drug warrant that was later determined to be based on the word of an informant who never actually went to the house. At least 13 officers, both current and former members of HPD, have been indicted.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers have called HPD's internal audit into the raid a "scam." Activists have also claimed that Houston police were warned about officer misconduct before the raid occurred.

Officer killed: Later in the year, HPD mourned the death of Sgt. Chris Brewster, who was killed in a shooting in Houston's East End. Acevedo had promoted Brewster, who was assigned to the patrol and Gang and Major Offenders Divisions, to sergeant just nine months prior.


Calls for transparency: In May 2020, activists called on Acevedo to release body camera videos from officer-involved shootings. At the time, six people had been shot and killed by Houston police within the month. Community members felt that Acevedo had not lived up to his promise of transparency.

You can read about each of those shootings by following the link to this story.

Shooting of Nicolas Chavez: Four Houston police officers were fired after an internal investigation determined they did not use reasonable force when they fired their weapons 21 times at a man who had been experiencing a mental health crisis, killing him in April 2020 after he was already injured and on the ground.

Chavez's shooting followed a 15-minute confrontation with police. His family has said he had a history of mental illness.

March for George Floyd: Acevedo has often been vocal on social media about issues, ranging from crime to politics. In the summer of 2020, he joined the march and protests over the death of George Floyd, a Houston native who died when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.

At one point during the march, he took a knee in solidarity with protesters and a woman stopped to pray over him.

Longtime sergeant dies: In October 2020, HPD Sgt. Harold Preston died after a shooting at an apartment complex in southwest Houston. At the time, Acevedo called the fallen officer "a hero. As good as he was a cop, he was a better human being."

READ: Houston police officers killed in line of duty in one year

Policy changes: Acevedo continued to be vocal about changes in policing following the police custody death of Floyd. Acevedo supported Mayor Turner's executive order banning the practice of chokeholds.

Acevedo said at the time that was just the latest in a series of changes planned.


HPD officer charged in Jan. 6 Capitol riot: After it was announced that Tam Pham, an 18-year HPD veteran, was taken into federal custody on charges related to the U.S. Capitol riots, Acevedo said Pham's arrests would be audited "to ensure there are no irregularities, to include the review of his body worn camera footage related to his arrests."

Pham resigned from HPD soon after his presence at the Capitol was revealed. Acevedo said Pham had no disciplinary problems during his time with HPD.

READ MORE: HPD reviewing past arrests made by former HPD officer who faces Capitol riot federal charges

Winter storm and deadly freeze: Aside from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one of the last major events Acevedo experienced as police chief in Houston was the winter storm that hit in mid-February. He mentioned this critical moment in an email to his officers, announcing his departure Sunday night.

"We have been through so much as an extended family; Hurricane Harvey, two World Series, a Super Bowl.... the summer of protests, and most recently, an ice storm of epic proportion," he wrote, in part.

ORIGINAL STORY: Police Chief Art Acevedo leaving Houston for Miami

HPD Chief Acevedo headed to much smaller dept. with lower crime rate

Who will be the next Houston police chief? Mayor says he will address it this week