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City Of Houston Honors Art Contreras In Renaming Of Northeast’s Police Station

He worked for the Police Department for 36 years and started its Cultural Awareness Program and its Organization of Spanish-Speaking Officers.

Former Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Art Contreras has been recognized by the City, which will rename the Northeast Police Station after him.
Former Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Art Contreras has been recognized by the City, which will rename the Northeast Police Station after him.

Art Contreras’ motto is that “to change the system, you have to get involved.”

At 23-years-old, he started working at the Houston Police Department as a traffic officer and 36 years later he retired having made it all the way to assistant chief.

On December 2nd, the Houston City Council recognized Contreras by approving a measure to rename the Northeast HPD station after him.

Contreras, who is now 76, led that station for several years as captain and made some important changes.

Ramona Tennyson Toliver, a Fifth Ward resident who frequently collaborated with him, says that “at the time that he (Contreras) was out here, Mexican-Americans and Blacks were not intermingling as much as they should, you understand what I’m saying, and he made it a better world.”

Contreras’ contributions to local law enforcement also include founding HPD’s Organization of Spanish-Speaking Officers and starting the Department’s Cultural Awareness Program.

“When you see how diverse Houston is, the various communities that make up this great city, you know, the various cultures and the different voice that they have, you know, the best, the better you understand that culture, the better you can serve them as a public servant,” stresses Contreras, who served as U.S. Marshall under President Bill Clinton after he retired from HPD.

While working for the Houston Police Department, Contreras also mentored other Latino officers who are now well known in Houston.

Two of them are former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and Houston Councilman Ed Gonzalez.

“It’s great for him to be alive to see this happen. Many times it happens post mortem and, so, for him to see it is a testament to his body of work,”  said Gonzalez about the city’s recognition for his former boss.

Contreras knows how he would like to be remembered. 

“He made a difference for the good. If that’s how they remember me, hey, you know, my ride was very worthwhile,” he says with a very humble voice.

Those who know him say that’s exactly his legacy.

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Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

General Assignment Reporter

Alvaro 'Al' Ortiz is originally from Spain. He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all platforms of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast news and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master's degree...

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