Kmart/Sonic/JCI Raid Saga
Councilman Berry, Boy-Blunder
Last night, Channel 11 broke some interesting news in the ongoing Kmart/Sonic/JCI police raid saga. According to an internal memo obtained by Channel 11 news, Police Chief Clarence Bradford was briefed months ago (requires registration) about Aguirre's plans to conduct the raids. Even better, unlike the dreadful Chron, Channel 11 actually talked to Captain Aguirre:
Who was in charge? It turned out to be HPD Captain Mark Aguirre. He told 11 news that he was surprised the chief had so many questions about the raid. "It was my understanding that Chief Bradford was in the loop," said Aguirre. "I assume that. Nothing of this magnitude would escape his attention."Don't get me wrong -- I'm not defending Aguirre in this one, and he deserves whatever punishment is dealt out to him. There was NO good rationale for the way these raids were handled. But Aguirre is a convenient scapegoat for the Police Chief and HPD Command, who really don't like Aguirre. Since they apparently knew about this raid and approved, it's going to be harder for them to fire him over it (which I think they would LOVE to do).
Friday night 11 News obtained an interoffice correspondence, which appears to back Captain Aguirre's beliefs. The memo is the plan for last weekend's raid. It was sent to Chief Bradford on May 13, months ago.
In the correspondence Captain Aguirre explains to the chief the proposed solution for the problems in that area and why issuing tickets would not work.
Aguirre says, "Simply issuing citations has had little or no impact. By arresting individuals observed violating local, state or federal laws and towing violators' vehicles, law enforcement will have more of an influence over the individuals' future behavior."
It's kind of funny, actually, that Chief Bradford, as much as he would love to get rid of Aguirre, can't pull it off. What does it say about Bradford's intelligence that he keeps getting outsmarted by an overzealous hotheaded captain? Hell, I would say at this rate, Chief Bradford is probably mayoral material! After all, if Lee Brown can bumble his way into being mayor, why not Bradford?
And on the topic of current and potential mayors, another interesting bit of news about the raids has emerged. The Chron, which still has not managed to obtain a quote from Captain Aguirre or any of his supporters (motto: "We're the Chron! Who needs balance?!"), has reported that The Boy Who Would Be Mayor (tm), Councilman Michael Berry, ACTUALLY WAS AN OBSERVER-PARTICIPANT IN THE JAMES CONEY ISLAND RAID, and knew about the planned K-Mart raid! Here is what the potential Boy-Mayor, who had been uncharacteristically QUIET for several days, had to say when pressed:
Asked if he should have encouraged Aguirre or other police officials to be less aggressive in the second raid, Berry said, "Sure, it's easy to say `Yes,' and that's the proper thing to do.Grandstanding?! That's what Boy-Blunder thinks about media coverage of an ill-advised raid in which he participated?! Could someone please explain to me how this child was elected to City Council? (yeah yeah, that post I linked above said he seemed sensible in the past. I hereby retract that assessment).
"But looking at what I knew and when I knew it, I was trying to understand police techniques," Berry said Friday. "I didn't know that's not what is done every time. I just didn't know that.
"Most of what the police do is outside the view of the public, and I was trying to get an idea on that because if I'm ever put in a position as mayor to make the decision on whether to fire the guy who called the command, I would like to have some level of experience to draw on."
Berry, an at-large council member, has announced as a candidate for mayor in 2003, when Brown is prohibited by term limits from seeking re-election.
Asked whether he would discipline Aguirre or others in the Houston Police Department if he were mayor now, Berry responded, "It's an HPD question. They know the rules.
"The media and talk shows and politicians need to stop grandstanding, and we should let HPD do their investigations," he said.
On policy matters, I don't often agree with Councilmembers Parker and Vasquez, but I can't object to these comments (from the Chron article):
"I'm shocked to learn he was at the (Aug. 17) raid and that he didn't realize how inappropriate some of the actions of the police were and not say something about it," Councilwoman Annise Parker said.The Boy-Blunder had absolutely zero chance of becoming mayor before this, which is actually too bad. I think it would be great fun to see him try to explain his involvement in these raids in a mayoral debate, instead of being a non-entity in the same.
"It's not uncommon for council members to take part in such city operations. But when something bad happens, we have to show leadership."
Councilman Gabriel Vasquez agreed, saying that if Berry was there, "he should have come forward and tried to stop it."
This would be a real laugher if not for the fact that a lot of innocent people now have criminal records and unwarranted tow charges to deal with.
(Update) Charles Kuffner writes about the latest, and reproduces an earlier comment from one of his readers.
[Posted at 11:11 CST on 08/24/02] [Link]