The Chron reports that controversial HPD Captain Mark Aguirre was suspended Saturday, pending the completion of its internal investigation of the Kmart/Sonic/JCI raids.
No doubt, Chief Bradford and the HPD command would love to fire Aguirre. But there is the problem of that memo from Aguirre to Bradford allegedly outlining the raid plans. The spinning has already started regarding that memo:
But [Houston Police Officers Union President Hans] Marticiuc said the memo to the police chief three months ago was not an accurate portrayal of the plan actually executed during last weekend's operation.Yeah, THAT is what's a shame! Not the fact that HPD goons arrested a bunch of innocents for no damn good reason! Spinning the internal divisions within HPD is much more important than THAT!
"From my perspective, it sounds like there was one plan in place, and somewhere along the line, someone put another plan in place. The whole memo dealt with racing and dealing with the racing problems. If no one was racing, I'm not sure what authority anyone had to change the plan and go into the criminal trespass mode," Marticiuc said.
"At what point was that decision made? Was it made prior to going out there, or was it made the night they got out there and found no drag racing going on? Was it made independently, or was it made with approval from higher authority?" he said.
"It's a shame you got a bunch of good officers out there following what they believe to be lawful orders, and now there's this big question mark. Now their careers and maybe more are on the line while department administrators point fingers at each other. We would just like for there to be a full, complete investigation," Marticiuc said.
It is probably worth noting (since the Chron doesn't bother) that Marticiuc is not exactly a fan of Aguirre, which stems from Marticiuc's strong opposition to Aguirre's Operation Renaissance policies.
In any case, it is very interesting that Chief Bradford didn't speak directly about that memo. Maybe he learned his lesson in his last attempt to discipline Aguirre, when the Chief's punishment was not upheld, and the Chief possibly perjured himself.
And how about S.K. Bardwell's article, "Suspended captain no stranger to controversy," which is also part of today's Chron coverage? Wasn't it nice of the Houston Press's Rich Connelly to provide so much useful background in this excellent profile he published in June? It would have been even nicer for Bardwell to give just a little credit to one of the better writers in this city.
Bardwell does use some interesting quotes from Boy-Blunder Michael Berry:
"He took policing outside the box," says City Councilman Michael Berry. "He began to look at the root causes of crime, the corollaries to crime, situations that incubate crime.Boy-Blunder was an observer-participant in one of Aguirre's recent raids, and seems to be a fan.
"Then he decided, `I'm not going to blame another city department for things that are not my job, I'm going to do something,' " Berry said of Aguirre.
(Update) This is a trivial-anal sort of thing (perfect for a blog!), but I just noticed that Miss Bardwell refers to the raid as "Operation Eraser" whereas Channel 11 calls it "Operation E-racer."
(08-25-02 Update) The Comedian (sprinkled throughout), Ginger Stampley, and Charles Kuffner all have updates on this topic. Kuffner has some especially interesting thoughts on broken-windows versus zero-tolerance policing.
[Posted at 23:50 CST on 08/24/02] [Link]