HOUSTON (CBS Houston) If Houston residents were interested in learning more about the Houston Police Department’s goals, cultural improvements and initiatives, then Saturday was the day to do so.
The Police and Clergy Alliance (PACA) Town Hall Meeting was held at Lakewood Church Saturday morning and offered Houstonians an opportunity to meet and talk with Houston police, members of PACA and other city officials.
PACA’s Kendall Baker served as emcee for the event and Dodie Osteen, co-founder of Lakewood Church offered opening prayer.
The event served as an opportunity for the public to learn more about the Houston Police Department’s goals, initiatives, tasks and objectives. Houstonians were also given an opportunity to ask questions and address concerns to officials.
Dignitaries included Houston Mayor Annise Parker and U.S. Representative for Texas, Shelia Jackson-Lee. Houston Police Chief Charles A. McClelland Jr. introduced himself as well as members of the Houston Police Department and spoke about the efforts of HPD.
He told audience members during Saturday’s meeting that policing Houston is a community-wide endeavor: “We [HPD] can’t do it alone,” stated McClelland. “We have done an outstanding job of making this a safer city but we need the help of Houstonians.” He also added that HPD operates upon five pillars that prove to be ideal as well as beneficial for the department. Those five pillars include: customer service, training, discipline, leadership, a structured civilian workforce initiative and civilian employees.
“Our core values of honor, integrity and respect are our moral compass,” added McClelland. In fact, all three values are minted on a coin that members of HPD and HPD staff are required to carry during work hours.
In addition to offering insight into the inter-workings of HPD, Chief McClelland also outlined the challenges that HPD faces. Such include: resources for mental health and those with substance abuse issues, and gun control policies.
Chief McClelland also stated several positions he has on gun policies which include a desire for anyone wishing to own a gun, submit to a background check. He also said that there should be a limit on high capacity magazines. “There also needs to be a ban on assault-style rifles,” he added. He also stated that he does not support teachers having guns in the classrooms.
After Chief McClelland ended his address, Regina Woolfolk, HPD’s Deputy Director read questions that were submitted on handwritten cards as well as on HPD’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Those questions ranged from the cars that HPD uses to patrol, to sex trafficking in the city of Houston and laws against texting and driving. Concerns were also raised about safety in Houston schools and program initiatives for students and children that are spearheaded by the Houston Police Department.
According to Chief McClelland, there are over 5,000 Houston police officers, as HPD is the fifth largest police force in the country, serving the fourth largest city in the country.
Representative Jackson-Lee addressed the audience offering her “hand of friendship” as she encouraged Houstonians to work side by side with HPD to ensure safer streets and well being for all residents.
Mayor Parker also told the meeting’s participants that community policing is a job that must be done all of the time, all over Houston: “There will be people who want to do wrong but there are more of us who want to do right,” stated Mayor Parker. “I am confident that we have the right leaders in Houston to bring about change and make Houston a great, prosperous, safe and wonderful place to work and live.”
Saturday’s meeting comes on the heels of Mayor Parker releasing crime statistics that reveal a decline in the Houston crime rate.
Break-out sessions followed the opening program offering town hall meeting participants an opportunity to speak one-on-one with HPD officers and captains to learn more of HPD’s core initiatives and activities in various communities in Houston. Click here to learn more about HPD.