August 29, 2002
K-Mart Kiddie Roundup: Chief Bradford speaks

Well, Chief Bradford has testified before the City Council, and he appears to be wimping out.

Houston Police Chief C.O. Bradford told City Council on Wednesday that he was embarrassed by the mass arrests of 273 people on trespassing charges earlier this month, and he implied that officers should have disobeyed orders to arrest them.

Bradford, in his first public appearance since the Aug. 18 raid, said officers should have given out citations that night, rather than arresting hundreds of people at a westside Kmart Super Center and a Sonic Drive-In in the 8400 block of Westheimer.

"Officers are taught beginning in the academy that they are not to follow an unlawful order," Bradford said. He added later that "arresting citizens for minor offenses has not been a department policy. I wouldn't approve of a plan as it was executed that night."

No word about the memo that Captain Aguirre wrote in May outlining his plan to arrest people for such infractions, so draw your own conclusion about whether Bradford is clueless or dishonest. This doesn't exactly give me a warm fuzzy either:

Bradford deflected responsibility for the raid, saying he was out of town the week before it took place and never saw or heard about the plan. He said he first learned of the operation on the news the next day, leading some to question his control over the department.

As Casey Stengel once said about the hapless 1962 Mets, doesn't anyone here know how to play this game? I have to agree with Hans Martuciuc here when he says that the chief needs to be more accountable. If the captains have the authority to do this sort of thing without the chief's explicit knowledge and approval, then we need captains who don't order the arrest of everyone in sight when a planned raid turns into a dud.

There's another thing about this that has bugged me. You've got a huge mobilization of officers and tow trucks for a raid that is intended to bag drag racers. Would it kill you to have an advance scout in place to let you know ahead of time if there are any drag racers there?

On a side note, Kevin has spoken to the manager of the James Coney Island where a similar raid occurred prior to the K-Mart raid. He had been very critical of some comments this manager had made about the arrests, but after speaking to the man in person he has retracted his stronger comments. Since I had agreed with Kevin's assessment at the time, I also retract my comments. Thanks to Kevin's followup I have a much better understanding of what really happened.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 29, 2002 to K-Mart Kiddie Roundup