The Houston Police Officers' Union warning employees to not file minor complaints against each other

Daniela Hurtado Image
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Houston's police union pushes back on 'frivolous' complaints
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Houston Police Officers' Union is urging its employees to cease minor complaints against each other in a newly filed letter.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Police Officers' Union is warning its rank and file to stop filing frivolous complaints against each other.

A letter was put out last month pushing back on the filing of low-level complaints.

Eyewitness News was told that the letter came after an employee filed an internal affairs complaint over an officer leaving a banana peel inside a police car for the third time.

The complaint was the last straw.

That's when the police union felt they needed to push back and remind everyone that a supervisor can handle minor issues like banana peels, dirty uniforms, and no seatbelts and doesn't need a full-blown internal affairs investigation.

"Don't send it up to internal affairs and get 15 people involved. We have more important things to do than deal with these minor infractions," the executive director of the Houston Police Officer Union, Ray Hunt, said.

A letter penned by the president of the Houston Police Officer Union, Doug Griffith, says the department is seeing more discipline cases than they've seen in the past.

"This is because of the belief that any issue could be settled behind the nearest station," Griffith said.

"He's not talking about going to fight. That's 1980s style. That doesn't happen anymore," Hunt said.

The union's executive director says instead, it's referencing that employees with issues like bad-mouthing coworkers, dirty uniforms, lost IDs, or not showing up to court need to talk things out or be held accountable through supervisors.

"If we can handle it by a supervisor simply calling you in and, as he said, a butt chewing... if that solves the problem, why do we want to get all of these other people involved?" Hunt asked.

The letter to officers says they need to learn not to get upset when being chewed out and that supervisors need to learn to deal with people who disagree with them instead of immediately launching an internal affairs investigation. Retired officers, like Mark Stephens, say they agree and that it needs to be reeled in.

"This goes on their official record whether they file the complaint or the complaint was filed against them," Stephens said.

The police union says in 2022, they had approximately 800 complaints internally, many of which they considered low-level compared to the 280 complaints filed by the public.

"If it's minor, leave internal affairs for the serious stuff, the violations of civil rights, excessive force, the racial, the sexual, those kinds of things. Don't take it to internal affairs if its one of those things that's eligible for supervisor intervention," Hunt said.

The union says this isn't about a police code of silence. They want employees to report serious violations and to learn to handle minor problems like banana peels left in a squad car among themselves.

Hunt says many of these cases can be handled through supervisory intervention.

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