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Houston Police Consider Ways To Diffuse Volatile Encounters

Police officers from Houston recently gathered in Washington, D.D. to consider 30 principles to defuse volatile encounters. But the union that represents HPD’s officers has issues with some of them.

The law enforcement policy group Police Executive Research Forum compiled the principles after two years of research. Earlier in 2015, the executive assistant chief of the Houston Police Department, George Buenik, traveled to Scotland with other police leaders to see how their mostly unarmed police force deals with a suspect with a knife, for example.

“One of the things that we learned from Police Scotland is they like to use these big shields. If the person decides to rush them, the police can protect themselves by, you know, putting up the shields.”

Buenik says HPD has already been utilizing many of these principles, such as the policy on shooting suspects behind the wheel.

“Well, we already have a policy that addresses shooting at moving vehicles. You know, in our first course of action, if it looks like somebody’s gonna run you down, get out of the way. If you end up shooting and killing the guy that’s driving it, now you gotta a vehicle that’s out of control.”

“That is outrageous,” says Ray Hunt, with the Houston Police Officers Union. “If you’ve got a vehicle during the Chevron Marathon running from police, do you expect us to stand there and not shoot at that vehicle before it plows into a thousand people running down Memorial Drive? That policy should say that you should be restrained when shooting at vehicles, but you should not be prohibited from it.”

Several officials at the conference expect police unions to fight some of the recommendations.

Hunt says that officers should be part of the decision-making process.

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland will be reviewing the 30 principles (which can be viewed below) and deciding which of them can be implemented by Houston police.

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