HPD and Union Try to Show Unified Front

The Houston Police Department and the Houston Police Officer's Union are trying to show a unified front to the community after weeks of publicly debating policy issues and questioning the chief's leadership. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson has more.

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A survey released by the Houston Police Officers' Union showed widespread lack of support among the rank and file for Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt. The union and HPD's command staff had been at odds for some time when Houston Mayor Bill White stepped in and called for mediation between the groups. White says the department and the union spent the weekend discussing the issues and he asked them to remember their number one priority: to protect the public.

One of the results of the mediation retreat was the halt of a controversial pursuit policy recently implemented by HPD Chief Harold Hurtt. The policy would prevent officers from pursuing a suspect who attempts to flee for a minor violation.

Hurtt says the department and the union are working at increasing communication. Union President Hans Marticiuc has criticized Hurtt's leadership in the past, but says they made headway in relations between the union and department command staff.

HPD will hold a public hearing into the pursuit policy, although no date has been set for that. Chief Hurtt also pledged ongoing communication with the union, including opening up senior command meetings to union representation. The department and the union will meet with a mediator in about 30 days to evaluate their progress. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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