In May, the department lost one of their tactical officers in a helicopter crash and last week, Sgt. Harold Preston, a 41-year veteran of the force, was shot and killed responding to a domestic violence call.
READ MORE: Fallen HPD Sgt. Harold Preston was about to retire this year
The risks law enforcement officers take to protect their community is exactly what Gov. Greg Abbott wanted to call attention to Wednesday.
The governor, along with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Senator John Cornyn and other Texas leaders, signed what is being called the "Back the Blue" pledge.
Governor Greg Abbott was in Houston today to sign the “Back the Blue” pledge. 🖊 Part of his plan includes defunding cities who defund the police. For example: Austin. He also said if the capital city continues on that path, they’ll take over parts of APD. pic.twitter.com/vOy3nnnt2J— Erica Simon (@EricaOnABC13) October 28, 2020
Abbott said he wants every elected official across the state, and every Texan, to sign it.
It's a tangible way to show your support, but it also sparked his proposal to defund cities who defund the police department and take away their annexation powers.
"To defund the police, like what we've seen in Austin, and what's reverberating in cities across the state ... they are disgraceful," said Abbott. "They are reckless. It invites crime into our communities, and it endangers law enforcement officers and their families."
On the other hand, the Houston branch of the NAACP said the governor is missing the point of positive and productive police reform, which they believe is needed now more than ever.
"Rather than militarizing the police, we need to get them some help so they can properly deal with the public," said Dr. James Douglas with Houston NAACP. "And that's what defunding the police is talking about. Putting the money in the place where they can do a more effective job of policing."
Douglas went on to reference the large number of people in jail who suffer from mental illness.
He believes if officers knew how to handle that population, or had social programs on the front end, a lot of the problems would be solved.
During the next legislative session, Abbott said he plans to propose the following items:
- Defund cities that defund the police
- Eliminate annexation powers of cities that defund the police
- Protect law enforcement officers responding to riots
- Mandatory minimum jail sentence for anyone who strikes an officer during a riot. This includes a felony offense that leads to jail time for anyone using lasers during a riot.
- Austin City Council votes to cut police department budget by one-third, reinvest money in social services
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