Thursday, October 03, 2019

Initial thoughts on the Amber Guyger verdict

Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger's murder conviction and ten year prison sentence raises so many conflicted emotions! Here are Grits' initial thoughts on the trial and the outcome:

Abuse of power by police union prez should be punished, forbidden going forward
Maybe what stood out to me most was the role of Dallas police union president Mike Mata. He showed up at the scene of the shooting, sequestered Guyger from police investigators, and gave orders to cops on the scene to turn off cameras and mics in the police car where she was sitting - which they followed! Mata is a police sergeant, not an attorney, and had no legal authority to keep Guyger from being questioned or recorded. His actions corrupted the process from the beginning. Outside of a defendant's attorney, no other third party would be allowed to do this, but Mata misused his sergeant's rank to protect her. He should be disciplined or fired for this abuse of authority, and the department should establish rules to prevent it from happening again.

Racist social media posts by cops not harmless
Guyger's racist social media postings, and those of her colleagues, also deserve more scrutiny. As the Plain View Project revealed earlier this year, this is not a one-off but part of a broader departmental problem that has been tolerated by management and encouraged by a flat-out racist subculture within the agency. Now that an officer engaging in this behavior has been convicted of murdering a black man, we see the issue of racist "personal" opinions of Dallas PD officers quite clearly has policy implications. IMO, this episode shows officers holding such views are a clear and present public-safety threat.

Deescalation training clearly insufficient; Guyger said she never considered it
Just months before the shooting, Guyger had received 8 hours of deescalation training which was mandated in 2017 by the Sandra Bland Act. But Guyger testified using those deescalation tactics never entered her mind. So was her training insufficient? Should it be expanded? Required more frequently? Do departmental policies reflect that training and require officers to use deescalation where possible? Are there professional consequences for failing to deescalate when possible, and if not, why not? DPD and the public should be concerned that its training was so ineffective that a uniformed police officer never even considered it before firing her service weapon at an unarmed man.

So we don't prosecute evidence tampering anymore?
Guyger and her married partner with whom she was having an affair both deleted texts from the night of the murder on their phones, although investigators later recovered them. Why wasn't her partner charged with evidence tampering, as any civilian would have been if they tried to destroy evidence in a murder case? Should a cop who tried to destroy evidence in a murder case even still be on the force?

Flaws in Castle-Doctrine law exposed in case
Some folks on social media blamed the judge for allowing Guyger to use the Castle Doctrine defense. But the judge isn't to blame; Texas legislators are. Most people think the Castle Doctrine means people defending their own home, as in "a man's home is his castle." But Guyger was a home invader entering another person's apartment! So there's a perception among those who haven't dug into the details of the law that there is now some sort of Castle-Doctrine bubble that white cops get to carry around with them and apply wherever they are. That impression is understandable. It sure looks that way from the outside! But in reality, the judge had no choice but to give a jury instruction on the Castle Doctrine. Texas' law says the shooter must only have a "belief" that they're protecting their home, they are not required to factually be protecting their home. So Guyger triggered the defense when she claimed she thought she was entering her own apartment. That's WAY too broad and should be scaled back when the Legislature meets next.

The verdict, and the hug(s)
Grits was not among those who believed a super-long sentence was required in this case, and I was glad Botham Jean's brother forgave Guyger from the stand and even stepped down to hug her. He's modeling excellent, Christian behavior and society would be better off if more victim families embraced forgiveness as a primary value. However, I feel differently about the judge hugging Guyger afterward. The judge didn't initiate it, but the photo of the embrace gave an appearance of special treatment in a situation that already was rife with them. It appears from a distance - obviously I wasn't there for the blow-by-blow - that the judge, an African-American woman, did a good job. But that photo coupled with a below-average murder sentence will be seen to contradict that.


There are many more issues coming out of this tragedy that will be debated going forward, these are just first-cut considerations in the immediate aftermath. While civil verdicts are more common in Dallas, a criminal conviction of a police officer is a rare and stunning result. Out of more than 50 officer-involved shootings in Dallas this year, only one officer has been indicted, and it's even more rare for indicted officers to be convicted and sent to prison. So by any measure, the verdict is big news. But Guyger's conviction won't in and of itself change a departmental culture that protects bad cops, tolerates their racist views and online postings, and fails to punish evidence tampering by its officers. That will require local officials to step up. And the public will be watching.


Gadfly said...

Grits, on the sentence, 10 years sounds about right. As I said in my post about the verdict and the sentence, the Balch Springs cop two years ago, Roy Oliver, got 15 years.

I agree with you on the racial issues. Knowing the "belief" part about Castle Doctrine, agree that it needs to be reformed. Hadn't thought about the evidence tampering. And, after your initial post yesterday, was waiting for further thought on your part that I could link inside my piece, which I shall do.

Anonymous said...

Now that Guyger's murder case is essentially over, this still much still work to be done.

1. When is the Dallas Chief of Police going to fire any and all DPD cops, especially their DPD goonion leader DPD Sgt Mike Mata who engaged in evidence tampering at the Jean murder scene????

2. When is the Dallas County DA going to indict and prosecute any and all DPD cops, especially their DPD goonion leader Sgt. Mike Mata who engaged in evidence tampering, particularly the turning off of police recording devices at the Jean murder scene????

3. When is the Dallas Chief of Police going to discipline and/or fire any and all cops especially their DPD goonion leader Sgt. Mike Mata who did not follow established “procedure” at the Jean murder scene, including and especially failure to book Guyger into jail that evening??????????

Let the lawsuits begin:

1. Against DPD and the “Great City of Dallas” (and I use the term loosely) in general

2. Personally against any and all cops involved who gave Guyger special favors that would not be made available to the average “citizen” (e.g. someone NOT a cop)

3. Against the apartment building owner and/or management

4. Against the (over?) fabled Texas Rangers (Who whitewashed this case)

And let’s hope that the Jean family win BIG BIG BIG $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, particularly personally against those DPD cops involved in any wrongdoing.

Anonymous said...

Grits, I say this as someone with nearly 15 years of experience as a firearms and field tactics instructor with one of the largest state prison systems in the country (I've trained COs, parole officers, sheriff's deputies, municipal LEOs, state police, etc.). No 8 hour training session in deescalation tactics will ever have the desired effects nor will it be taken seriously by most officers (too many have already absorbed the warrior cop mentality, even those who will never shoot anyone). Having only a discrete 8 hour block of training and labeling it "Deescalation Training" is almost to guarantee failure.

The only way to accomplish the desired goal is to incorporate deescalation at every level of training, from pre-service/academy basic training through regular in-service sessions. Any field tactics training (other than basic firearms proficiency) should include it. Each and every training session in which officers are trained how to escalate a situation (as in using force to make lawful arrests, etc.), they should be trained how to deescalate a situation, if possible, to effect the same results.

Sadly, many who consider themselves "progressive" see the Sandra Bland Act training as a solution and have moved on. In reality, this is like signing a petition and then patting oneself on the back for having "done something." To really fix an issue of this magnitude takes the proverbial "hard work and perseverance." Most police administrations and nearly all police unions will fight this type of systemic change tooth and nail, so anyone interested in seeing real change has to be prepared to be in this struggle for the long haul.

Gadfly said...

Also, Grits, as I tweeted you, the judge's worst action was NOT the hug. It was, just before that, her blatant disregard for the First Amendment by basically ordering Guyger to read a bible.

Anon No. 2, as I say in my updated blog post, besides upping the training, the carrot of fines and citations for cops who don't follow through needs to be implemented by police departments.

Anon No. 1? I raise the question in my blog post about where DA Creuzot is, as well as where the Texas Rangers are. DPD Chief Halll is launching an internal investigation, ie, likely whitewash and/or legal butt-covering, especially since she's already been on kind of shaky ground.

A Waco Friend said...

My question is how much of the blame can be placed on her having worked a double shift, being extremely tired as a result? Double shifts should not be allowed for PD officers. Perhaps, in emergency situations, a 12 hour shift, but never 16 or more hours. Reaction time, thinking, etc., are deficient when someone is that tired.

Anonymous said...

What concerned me most and needs to be addressed so that it receives the media publicity it deserves is the testimony of Texas State Trooper Sgt. David Armstrong. He was assigned the Guyger case for a reason. He was chosen because Texas Department of Public Safety head honcho Steven C. McCraw knew he'd play ball as Armstrong was also responsible for the loss of innocent life and never held accountable.

A fatal traffic wreck involving Texas Ranger David Armstrong of Dallas is a good example of the double standards inside DPS. On February 2, 2017, Ranger Armstrong was returning from a special operations shift on the Mexican border when he crashed his DPS vehicle into a pickup truck, ejecting both the driver and the passenger. After several weeks, a DPS Highway Patrol accident reconstruction team was able to recover the vehicle’s computer to confirm his speed at the time of the crash. He was driving 84 miles per hour on Highway 281 in Premont, where the posted speed limit was 45 miles per hour. Ranger Armstrong fractured his hip, and his DPS vehicle burned down to the metal. The passenger of the other vehicle, 30-year-old JD Kristopher Trevino of Premont, died of his injuries five days after the wreck. Even though the accident occurred in Premont city limits, and even though accidents in municipalities are normally investigated by city police, DPS handled the investigation so it could cover up what happened. Among other things, Ranger Armstrong was violating a DPS safety rule at the time of the accident. That rule mandates that officers working on the border take a six-hour rest period before driving home, and the rule had been in effect for more than a year at the time of the accident. Ranger Armstrong had repeatedly violated the rule – a fact known to his supervisors – and he was violating it again when he was driving through Premont at 10:15 p.m. Although most drivers would have been charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, or at least reckless driving, Ranger Armstrong was never charged with anything, nor was he disciplined. Instead, the entire incident was covered up by senior DPS commanders, and Ranger Armstrong is now leading a high-profile investigation into a police shooting in Dallas.

Read more:

Gadfly said...

Waco Friend: Aside from the racism, per everything Grits and others have noted, maybe she would have been OK as a small town cop, but it's a failure of the Dallas PD to have hired her.

Lee said...


I disagree with the comment that a shorter sentence was appropriate. I do not think the sentence was long enough. I am still worried that I have no legal protection or recourse for when at any moment my door may be forced open and I will be gunned down by a warrior cop.

If a cop shoots and kills me they will get 10 years of prison but if I shoot the cop, I will get the death penalty? WTF?

Here is my chart from your last post to the subject:

Upper Caste of Important Lives - Judges, Cops & Prosecutors - Punishment for Murder is Death Penalty

Lower Caste of Unimportant lives - Accountants, Cooks, Truckers, Barbers, Plumbers, Electricians, Priests, Physicians, Students, Nurses, Pilots, Paralegals, Bakers, Cab Drivers, Bloggers, Psychiatrists, Cashiers, Teachers, Construction Workers and everyone else - Punishment for Murder is 5-99 years

The math does not make since.

Again, How is this fair justice?

Gadfly said...

Anonymous No. 3: Armstrong has his problems, yes. Other people besides Seth Rich conspiracy theorist Ty Clevenger have noted that, too. And, yes, Ty is that and many other things:

Oil Lease said...

I've never been hugged by a judge. Quite the opposite and no one was hurt when I was charged. You can speak of grandiose things, like reading the Bible, but it changes nothing. She will be free in less than 10 years and the victim will remain dead. If it had been the other way around, with a "civilian" as the cops like to term non-cops, and he'd killed one of the anointed ones with a badge, he would have gotten the death penalty, no if, ands or buts.

Speak of anything other than the bitter truth. He was murdered and she will live, and quite possibly kill another person of a color she hates.

Anonymous said...

Gadfly, everything in the paragraph posted by Anonymous 3 is factual. This was a major cover up. Indeed, the original release about the wreck didn't even mention that a DPS vehicle was involved. Nothing would have ever came out if it weren't for the honest DPS accident investigator whistleblower coming forward. Here's the initial news report on the wreck.

Gadfly said...

Anon No. 4, I didn't say it wasn't factual. I was just pointing out Clevenger's true wingnut background and that, as you show by your link, other people besides Clevenger reported this.


Oil Lease, did you not note that murder convicts are ineligible for parole? So, no, she'll be in for 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Gadfly, that is wrong. Murder convicts become parole eligible once they've served half of their sentence. You're thinking of the federal system, which doesn't have parole. She'll be out in five unless Jean's family protests the board which they won't.

Anonymous said...

This is correct.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@5:25, I don't think anybody claimed victory and moved on after the Sandra Bland Act. We got what we could get and now will be using incidents like this to argue for more. I agree 8 hours training was insufficient. Serious question I hope you'll answer: Based on your experience, what would it take to get officers to actually implement deescalation tactics they're trained in?

@Waco Friend - I partially agree with you on long shifts, but when you're tired, training matters even more. Even if shifts aren't long, tons of cops work off-duty jobs, so hard to prevent long hours. That may have contributed, but I'm not sure shorter shifts are the answer.

@Lee, we can agree to disagree. I generally don't think prison sentences >20 years are necessary for anyone, so it'd be two-faced of me to say she deserves to be in prison for life.

@Oil Lease, I agree with you, if Jean had shot her, there's a good chance prosecutors would seek the death penalty, Castle Doctrine or no. OTOH, I don't agree with that, either. Also, I seriously doubt she will kill someone again; it's very rare for convicted murderers to commit more murders. Certainly she won't ever be a cop again.

@Gadfly, I'm far more concerned about the appearance of bias from the hug than I am the 1A implications of giving Guyger a Bible. It's weird, but not much more coercive than the Gideons putting a Bible in a hotel room. Certainly no one will be checking up to see if she reads it. We must agree to disagree.

11:16 saying Guyger will be eligible in 5 years is correct, fwiw. OTOH, almost no one is paroled the first time they're up. May be different for an ex-cop, but I wouldn't recommend she make any vacation plans for five years and a month.

Gunny Thompson said...

From Unfiltered Minds of Independent Thinkers of the 3rd Grade Dropout Section:

While I am in partial agreement with most respondents,but what appears to be overlooked or ignored is that there reportedly had been a previous relationship by the parties involved. It's my position that the shooter ("Assassin") was possibly acting out of rage in retaliation for being rejected (Scorned) by the victim. When texting another police officer, who is married and whom she is alleged to having an affair, one report allege that she was in need of being sexual satisfied. Nothing in initial reporting alleged that she was exhausted from a double shift. Additionally, apartment witnesses allege that there were issues involved that disputed the shooters statement of the case that she was confused

I have, in writing, urged the previous DA that due to disputed issues of the case, the matter must be referred to the Justice Department to which I did not receive a response.In matters involving police officers and citizens, when the officer is killed, the citizen is generally charged,convicted,and sentenced to death. Unjust laws that give protection to police officers are in violation of Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, Violation of the Separation of Church and State,demands that case must be overturned. Alternatively. I would suggest that the penalty phase should be re-litigated.

In my opinion, Judge Tammy Kemp had a conflict-of-interest and was compromised by her police association's election endorsement. In the opinion of this writer, she is a Trader to the Black Community and must be removed from office.

Anonymous said...

Grits, Anonymous 5:25 responding here.

The comments about people moving on after the Sandra Bland Act was passed weren't directed at you.

As far as officers actually implementing deescalation, it will never happen if they don't internalize the concept, which they are unlikely to do as long as it is presented as an 8 hour block of in-service training. Like most government employees, cops tend to view in-service training as a pain in the rear (unless it is something exciting such as dynamic room entry). If they don't learn to regard escalation/deescalation as two sides of the same coin (with one side being appropriate in some circumstances and the other side in others) they will dismiss any in-service training as being nothing more than a box to check off to show that they've met their annual in-service requirements. This is also the view that most training administrators will take.

Obviously, in-service is really the only practical way to provide training to those already out of the academy, so the only way to reach them is to incorporate deescalation into the entire spectrum of in-service training. For example, if the training session is Use of Force, then how to avoid using force must also be taught, at the same time, by the same instructors. The instructors also have to demonstrate that they are committed to the concept of deescalation, or they cannot be permitted to continue as instructors, This will require that police administrators actually monitor how training is being conducted, something that far too many are loath to do.

The ideal place to implement deescalation training is in the basic academy. It needs to be included (and not as an afterthought) in modules such as use of force, arrest planning, public relations, unarmed self-defense, etc. Even in basic firearms, trainees can learn that being proficient with a gun means understanding when not to use it. In other words, deescalation must become part of their ordinary thought process (somehow, officers of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, nearly all of whom are armed and who face challenges the vast majority of American cops will never face, have learned to do this).

Clearly, there are other factors at play here. The "War on Drugs, the pernicious influence of the warrior-cop grifters (the Bill Lewinskis and Dave Grossmans, etc.) and the carceral demands of much of the public, both right and left (who only differ in whom they want to lock up). These are topics for another day.

Finally, Amber Guyger is the poster girl for my main points. She had deescalation training and testified that deescalation never occurred to her. She "instinctively" acted on her firearms training and drew and fired to "stop the (nonexistent) threat." Had she simply backed out of the doorway and called for assistance, this incident would would have ended with her embarrassed apology to Botham Jean. Instead, she acted based on the training that she had internalized rather than the training she had not.

Gunny Thompson said...

From Unfiltered Minds of Independent Thinkers of the 3rd Grade Dropout Section:

Anon @ 3:54 In no disrespect to the Brother, but, he appears to have more than a layman's knowledge of the workings of police training and appears to rely on his Theory that police conduct is based solely on training that was received during the Academy process. Unless I have misunderstood his concept, he believes police officers can only rely on their Academy training in reacting to their encounter with the general public.

That being the case, and the proposition that officers can only react as trained seals, we can replace officers with robots that can be programed to react only in a given manner. Court decisions are often based on the concept of what Anon appears to rely on: that officers are unable to act outside of their training. This is not brain surgery, and we understand that we and they have the ability not to react rashly in a given situation. When a citizen react in the manner of the shooter and kills a police officer, they are indicted, prosecuted, and in most cases, given the death penalty. When police officers unjustifiably shoots and kills an unarmed citizen, in most cases, they are given immunity, and in some cases rewarded with promotions and pay.

The use of immunity by the court is misguided and is in conflict with the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and the immunity concept is cut out of whole cloth with no plausible justifiable rationality for its use.

Anonymous said...

@ Gunny Thompson

You completely misunderstood my point. My point is that, if we want cops to change their behavior so that deescalation is part of their regular thought process when dealing with potential or actual problems, we can't just throw a minimal amount of in-service training at them and then consider the job done. People have to internalize a concept before they act on it in a consistent manner. For cops, this means that concepts we wish for them to internalize must be presented repeatedly, from the day they enter the academy until the day they retire or otherwise leave the profession.

There is nothing robotic about this: this is based how human beings behave. We do this, in a variety of ways, while training soldiers, machinists, heavy equipment operators, doctors, teachers, etc. This is just as true for cops.

And guess what? There is at least one concept that has been presented to them repeatedly and a disturbing number of them have internalized it. That concept is the "warrior-cop", a concept that teaches that they are constantly in danger, that every non-cop is a potential
existential threat and that it is best to always react with force (especially when there are rarely any consequences as a result). I don't know about you, but I view this as a problem. One that can't be fixed with a block of annual in-service training (during which many participants will sit there drinking coffee and checking their phones).

Yet, somehow, this has to be fixed. But it won't be unless the advocates for change realize that this is going to be a long term struggle.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the union president at the crime scene, wouldn't that fall under their civil service contract? Large cities in Texas generally prohibit interviewing officers without their lawyer present, further restrict recording them except under very specific circumstances, and provide for specific timelines to be followed. I'm not advocating these measures as a best practice, simply reminding people that they exist, many reformists would like to see such measures given to all those accused of crimes more than just take them away from officers.

Social Media postings: Perhaps the fact that her media posts of the past came into play will remind others, not just officers, that while we are entitled to free speech, it most certainly will be held against us at some future time if the circumstances merit. Ask all those impacted by the witch hunts of the #metoo movement, the extremes of which some will go to discredit or vilify out of context show no bounds.

Deescalation Training: Houston PD has required all cadets to spend a full 40 hour week dedicated to this for years and years, every member of the department getting another full day of such training on top of whatever TCOLE requires. They also have had an expanded crisis team for over 10 years where street officers could call in specialists on any shift to deal with the mentally ill or others in crisis, yet the department is still known for shooting people. The idea that just using a stick when an officer applies the law to handle a situation is not going to result in change, there needs to be a carrot as well. Scott has advocated more civilian mental health workers to augment such teams but the sheer number of mentally ill out there makes me wonder if there would ever be enough to satisfy the need.

I'll leave the conspiracy theories to the tin-foil-hat crowd and the sour grapes to the Oil Lease types with chips on their shoulder, noting that if the worst the judge did was give the convicted a hug or provide her with a Bible, with no strings attached mind you, I'm not going to fault her. There's plenty to discuss on these subjects and certainly no end to the kinds of reforms that might make things better but the all-or-nothing crowd do not move things forward no matter how well meaning they think they are.

Gunny Thompson said...

Anon @ 10.04.19, 10:30 PM

Thanks for the response. I can appreciate your response and those of others concerning lethal force and general operation requirements, however, I have a problem with the closed door, us-against-them polices of most agencies. That is, unless you are a part of an accepted group, getting information concerning general operation often requites judicial enforcement. eventhough there laws in place for disclosure.

Recently, the USSC issued an opinion that law enforcement agencies are not required to appoint applicants with higher IQ's for an appointment. Although, I can't verify the current HPD requirements, but previously Local Government Code Chapter 143 requirements were, among others, at least 60 Hours from an accredit institution of higher learning and a qualifying score administered pre-appointment. As I understand it, the appointment requirements are now much lower, And in 2001, in Nugent v City of Houston, 98-CV-3915, federal Judge Sim Lake issued a ruling that the city of Houston HPD,discriminated against Anglo Saxons for appointments, with a force at lease a 85% of Anglo Saxon officers that are classified as non-Blacks.

My point is, if that is the case,then lowering of requirements to maintain an inequality of personnel is part of the problem and not the solution to lowering the escalation of unjustified assassinations that can be attributed to the quality of applicants appointed.

Anonymous said...

Gunny, HPD's requirements for promotions have nothing to do with IQ, the core factor in promoting is how well candidates do on a multiple choice test, followed by an assessment center. Having a college degree can net a candidate a point or 3, as can military service, but the entire process is readily available online if you are interested. It should be noted that higher ranks require specific college degrees, an assistant chief must have a master's degree or more, a captain must have a bachelor's, and so forth, but the chief himself can have less education than his subordinates as in the case of police chief Acevedo with his BA. Military service will qualify an applicant without college but otherwise you need 48 college hours at a minimum.

As far as HPD's hiring practices, some of which were described in the testimony of that court case, the city had a policy of hiring at least half of every cadet class with minorities and women since Lee Brown was the police chief in the 1980's. Prior to that time, relatively few others were allowed to successfully apply. Under Sam Nuchia, the goal to hire more minorities and women as escalated which is why the department has a majority of minorities and has for over 10 years. In recent years, the goal resulted in smaller classes when the targeted demographics weren't found to be hired, the difficulty in hiring when all the major agencies in the state paid better from cradle to grave resulted in some very marginal applicants being approved. The belief that citizens want a police force that looks more like them is widespread but in practice, race is not a big factor in use of force or shootings.

Few care that the city applied different standards to different groups as the goal was specific, to get more minorities and women working for HPD. Does more college make a candidate smarter or better? Does that apply to those with more military service as well? A few have attempted to look into the specifics and have yet to prove anything of significance, minorities tended to have military service more than college, it took longer for a white male applying, and other tidbits popped up but given the numbers of interactions with people and the factors leading up to getting shot by HPD (suspect engaged in a felony, using a firearm, refusing to obey lawful orders, presenting a clear threat), it is proven that HPD is better than it used to be.

Anonymous said...

Joshua Brown, key witness in Amber Guyger murder trial and neighbor of Botham Jean, shot to death in Dallas

Gunny Thompson said...

Anon @ 10.05.19

You put a lot on the plate that we may be able discuss at a later time, But to your point of disparity in hiring. That was the purpose of the complaint put forth in Nugent. While, as to you, it may not matter, but to others it's a matter of equal access.

African-Americans are, in many cases are better qualified than others, but are often arbitrarily denied similar opportunities as others. In point, African-American applicants are overly qualified in their education and military service than most. The City of Houston does not, and has not, recognized military service as an entitlement, which was officially established by the Parker administration in its Executive Order 1-6, Dated: 11.11.10, one day after the commemoration of the US Marine Corps birthday. And, in to further differ with your point that: "few are caring of applied standards," the Justice Department recently brought suit in Maryland concerning the application of different standards.

Anonymous said...

Gunny, Anon 10.05.19 here.
There is a lot that can be discussed and I am not advocating quotas, set-asides, or the failure of either so much as pointing out that the city did indeed engage in such things for a generation. If you want to be objective about Houston's experience in this, you might care to know that all the objective measures used such as credit scores, education levels, criminal backgrounds, and much more, were NOT in favor of proving your point that "many" African-American applicants were better qualified than their peers from other races, the opposite being the case since the policies were started in the mid 1980's.

The city gave such folks a hand up in the hiring process and it resulted in more minorities being hired. What you make of that depends on where you're coming from, no statistics available to the public on whether these often low achievers fared better than other groups. I think police departments reflecting their communities in terms of race is helpful to promote community policing even if having lower standards for women and minorities becomes necessary, it's just how much of a boost they are given that concerns some of us. Just how much those factors weigh in on having a "good" officer is anyone's guess.

Gunny Thompson said...

Anon: 10.07.19

In relations to hiring practices of law enforcement agencies, Houston is not alone in its devious and unlawful practices instituted to maintain a majority of Anglo Saxons. It is obvious that our views differ, but I am concerned that you would relate to 'OBJECTIVE' measures that has nothing to do with an ability to perform. When determining qualification for office, most African-American applicants never get past the application process. When speaking of "more officers minorities being hired' is clouded and misleading when you lump all non Blacks who are libeled as minorities.

You must know, or should know that critical measures of requirements are often ignored when an applicant is non-Black. Critical is resident requirement at the time of application. Texas Constitution requires that an applicant for an appointment as a public officer required that the applicant must have been a resident of Texas for a least a year and resident of the employing agent for at least six months. Once employed, in the event that the officer relocates his resident out of the employing agent's jurisdiction, the officer resigns his/her position automatically, by rule of law.

In State v Haynes, 01663282, 1999, Anthony Haynes was sentenced to die and remains on death row for the shooting of HPD Sgt Ken Kincaid, who, at the time, was no longer a city resident, and by law was not a city employee. Unlike shootings by enforcement officers. Haynes was not allowed the protection of Texas' "Stand Your Ground" law, eventhough he was not the aggressor, but defending his right of self protection.

The "good Officer" concept depends on who is making that determination. I am of the belief that officers with over six years of service and has not qualified as Sargent, are not entitled to a continuation of service. Twelve years must be the limitation of service if not reached the position of Lieutenant and sixteen years for captain and above. Most importantly, each officer must reapply every two years for continuation of service.

Anonymous said...

Gunny, your reading comprehension is lacking as it has clearly been the case since the mid 1980's that minorities have been given lower standards to apply and be hired by HPD. As I pointed out, the criteria used to hire may or may not be the best indicators of who will be a good person for the job but artificially lowering the standards for someone based solely on a desire to hire more minorities is a questionable practice. Your far fetched reading of the law in regards to residence sounds like you ran out of tinfoil because there is no residency requirement for employment as a firefighter or cop, interjecting a shooting case as though it applied in any way confirms my belief.

As far as those promoting and so forth, that's an interesting concept given the typical career span of an HPD cop is about 28 years and they are not eligible to promote until they have been full fledged officers for a minimum of 5 years. If you just miss eligibility for a promotion exam, you might have to wait 3 or more years as the previous list plays out. As such, I'd have to wonder exactly how you plan to recruit the massive wave of additional officers needed as you arbitrarily kick some out based on the limited slots for sergeants, the suggestion that only "good" cops promote is more questionable than the set-asides and quotas that have made HPD a policing agency with more minorities than white males.

I'd be all for periodic reviews for them to continue service past a given point of time but I suspect it would cost a great deal of money to find applicants for spots that are already paid less than every major department in the state. Not everyone is good supervisor or manager material and like the military, if you impose too many arbitrary restraints, you end up lowering the quality of those who apply-this has certainly been the case with the marine corp and army since the forced draft was ended.

Gunny Thompson said...

Anon @ 10/07/19

Judged by your misunderstanding and misapplication of laws, my Brother, you don't want to go down the Rabbit Hold of Reading Comprehension. When you refer to minorities as having been given lower standards to apply and being hired, not only by HPD, but also to other means of employment, I would suggest that you must not label African-Americans as a minority.

African-Americans demand to be judged by its merits, not in a collective group with others.

"Tinfoil?" Anon, you reaching past your ability to think objectively. Speaking of residency requirements, the general rule for residence and age requirements is proscribed in Election Code Section 141.001, et seq. and Texas Constitution, art 16, sec 14. In Texas, terms in public office is limited to 2.3,4 or six years as provided by Texas Constitution Art. 16, sec 30, (a) The duration of all offices not fixed by this Constitution shall never exceed two years).

I'm certain that you may not agree, but, police and firefighters are classified as public officers are proscribed from union organizing. Their appointment must never exceed two years. The provisions of Local Government Code 1269m was never legally implemented and does not grant civil service protection. Periodic views are necessary to maintain organization effectiveness, but their terms in public office must never exceed that which is allowed by the Constitution.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gunny, employees who are not elected are not part of the election code, go ahead and ask someone in the field about your misapplication of election code law. It is clear that blacks have been given extra consideration for positions in city employment, the numbers do not lie. From your comments, you are to be a republic of Texas type, but it's always fun to listen to those who believe they sound official quoting laws that have nothing to do with what they are spouting.

Gunny Thompson said...

Anon @ 10/08/19 10:05

Please be advised that the term "Gunny" represent the military rank I obtained while serving a career as a U.S. Marines.

No disrespect but opinions are personal and without factual support has no standing or authority in validating an augment. My efforts in this conversation were to offer supporting facts for my augments, to which you have a right to accept or oppose.

Before we terminate this communication, my question: Do you have any factual support for you statement that "Black have been given extra consideration for positions in city employment??" My question relates to positions in classified positions.

If you can provide me with your source of information, I would greatly appreciate it. Lastly, regarding the matter of residence requirements,I would suggest that you consider a research of the Election Code in determining the facts of my position. If I'm in error, I would no problem with changing my position.

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Anonymous said...

(pt 1) Gunny:
Election Code Section 141.001: specifically deals with those who seek to appear on an election ballot, per section (a), the statute outlining the requirements...
"(a) To be eligible to be a candidate for, or elected or appointed to, a public elective office in this state, a person must:..."

The statute applies to an elective office, not generic government employment. The closest relevant topic this would refer to is a sheriff or constable, not their deputies.

Texas Constitution, art 16, sec 14, deals with those in elected offices as well, immediately preceded by sec 13 which discusses candidates for elected office. Note further that even in you minority viewpoint, sec 30b specifically addresses those covered under civil service law:
"the duration of such offices shall be governed by the provisions of the Civil Service law or charter provisions applicable thereto"

Local Government Code Chapter 143 & 147 cover most of the ground with regard to public safety personnel, including allowing municipalities with a population exceeding a certain amount to in effect, make their own rules in labor agreements with unions. There is nothing requiring un-elected employees to establish residence to keep their jobs, the most infamous example being those in fire departments that maintain a permanent residence in another state who adjust their schedules to fly into town at regular intervals. Those in cities with a lower population are covered by other portions of the code but again, portions that apply to elected, and in some cases appointed, positions do not apply to the rest of the worker drones. I'd be happy if the state took a stronger stance against many of those in elected office that establish bogus "residency" all while living in another area in what anyone would call their primary residency but it is almost never enforced on them either. Otherwise, the statutes provide all sorts of quirks such as the child of a firefighter that died in the line of duty gets to jump to the head of any list as long as they pass the test or military service can count as much as 5 points but doesn't have to be a factor.

in Nugent v. city of Houston, the city was demonstrated to be giving preference to minorities, including but not limited to black candidates, in various ways. The city eventually entered into a consent decree which changed some of the city's hiring practices but the lawsuit was by two white male applicants seeking employment, one as a firefighter and one as a police officer. The testimony is freely available online where officials supported the contention that the city was giving favoritism to minority applicants, some even bragging to the effect how they went further than written guidelines in doing so.

Anonymous said...

(pt 2)
Check out the section B of the case for specifics, even though it provides only some of the ways the city used preferential hiring to push minorities over white male candidates, it uses city documents, testimony from those in recruiting, and was convincing enough to the court that the practices to give favoritism were indeed contrary to state law. For example:
"In February of 1995 HPD adopted its own Equal Employment Opportunity Plan. The plan states that "[i]n order to make the department more reflective of the community, the city has authorized each police academy class to be comprised of at least 66% minority recruits."20 The HPD plan describes a number of efforts taken by HPD to recruit minority applicants. The plan states that "since 1992, every police academy class has been comprised of no less than 60% minority members. Further, it is the intention of the Department to increase that number in 1995 to no less than 66% minority members..."

Again, aside from the city violating state law, I don't take the stance that the resulting minorities hired were any weaker or stronger, merely that it is proven the city gave minorities, including black minorities, extra consideration by policies of exclusion, accepting lower scores, and applying tougher standards to limit the number of whites hired. The result was that the department eventually was populated by more minorities than white males, no judgement by me regarding the quality of the resulting demographics. Any attempts by state law to make such hiring race-neutral were purposefully ignored to favor those with weaker reading skills and credit scores, and so on, simply because they were minorities which seems contrary to good public policy.

So yes Mr. Thompson, there is no doubt the city pursued racial favoritism toward minorities under the belief that the most important qualification for candidates was their racial identity, your belief to the contrary is incorrect. If you or someone you know wasn't hired and they were a minority, you/they must have had some real problems meeting the core requirements. As far as your opinions on residency, we'll just agree to disagree in part for reasons stated above.

Gunny Thompson said...

Anon @ 10/12/19

It appears that you are unable to recognize or accept African-Americans as an independent ethnic group and not a "Minority." While the conversation has been appreciated, it does not appear that we can come to an understanding on the same page to consider positive considerations in resolving the long-standing misapplication of laws that compel equal access to employment as demonstrated by continuing draconian Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws which leads me to believe that it's necessary that its appropriate that we agree to be be disagreeable and move on.

Anonymous said...

Gun, Jim Crow laws haven't been enforced in over 50 years and as I pointed out, minority applicants (which include blacks) have been given preferential treatment in police hiring since the mid 1980's. I have not taken a negative stance regarding these quotas and set-asides, recognizing the value of diversity in a diverse community such as Houston. That you believe blacks do not benefit from such affirmative action policies is apparent, but the undeniable fact is that the city has done everything in it's power to legally, and perhaps not so legally, hire with an eye on race for a very long time.

Blacks comprise the largest group of employees for the city with over 35% of city employees being black while the local population of blacks is less than 23%. The police force used to be almost exclusively white males and due to such aggressive hiring policies, blacks now comprise a quarter of that department, Latinos another quarter, and other minorities chiming in at above their representative numbers as well. Again, I can't prove any of these groups are better or worse than their white counterparts any more than I can state whether female officers are better but it is simply not true to claim hiring policies are unchanged from the days you refer to-the numbers don't lie. You can file a public records request or just go over to the Texas Tribune database to see for yourself.