Police

Mayor Whitmire calls for merger of Metro Police with the Houston Police Department

Houston Mayor John Whitmire said that, pending a deal over pension benefits and other matters, he expects the consolidation to take place within the year.

Mayor-Elect John Whitmire
Andrew Schneider/Houston Public Media
Mayor-Elect John Whitmire at his campaign office, December 19, 2023.

Mayor John Whitmire is calling for the merger of the Metro Police into the Houston Police Department. Whitmire aims to consolidate the two forces within a matter of months.

"We've got a real serious perception, and quite (frankly) reality, that a lot of the rail and bus lines are not safe," Whitmire said. "Chief (Troy) Finner and I believe that, if they were part of a comprehensive plan working with HPD, it would give the community more protection as we allow the people working Metro lanes to get off the lines and go into the community."

Whitmire noted there are precedents for such a merger, noting that Houston's airport police and park police were previously independent. He acknowledged there are several hurdles to uniting the two law enforcement agencies.

"You have to sit there and work out the finances, the retirement, and I have great confidence in Chief Finner. He's very motivated to this, so I think you'll see it happen. How quick, I don't know. Sometime this year, for sure," Whitmire said.

Metro board chair Sanjay Ramabhadran released a statement saying, "We look forward to working on the details of Mayor Whitmire's proposal. The Metro Police Department has long partnered with other law enforcement agencies, including HPD. It is always good to see what more we can do for public safety. The mechanics of it need work when you are talking about departments, service areas, labor, and pension matters. As an agency, we are committed to seeing what all we can do. There is the decision to say we should collaborate and merge, and then there are the nuts and bolts of it. At the end of the day, we are all dedicated to public safety."

Whitmire has repeatedly called for greater consolidation of Houston's various police forces as a way to better combat crime. "Eighty-plus law enforcement agencies in Houston just need better collaboration," he said. "So, this is a first step."