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Aguirre in arbitration

Former HPD Captain Mark Aguirre, fired for his role in the K-Mart Kiddie Roundup fiasco of 2002, is in arbitration and seeking to be reinstated.

During emotional and sometimes angry testimony Tuesday, former Houston Police Department Capt. Mark Aguirre claimed he was wrongfully fired and was betrayed by his co-workers.

During a hearing before an independent arbitrator, Aguirre said he wants his job back and the pay he has lost since he was fired almost two years ago for his handling of Operation ERACER, a controversial raid at a west Houston Kmart parking lot that became a legal fiasco for the city.

“Sir, you can’t put me back together — I know that,” he told the hearing examiner. “You have no idea what’s happened to me, how I was betrayed by my co-workers and my Police Department. … They destroyed me financially. They destroyed me reputationwise. You can’t give me my reputation back. But I want that back pay, at the very least. … I want my job back, and I want to be given some measure of dignity.”

An attorney for the city, calling Aguirre the “mastermind” of the raid, claimed the fired police captain has no recourse.

Aguirre, 47, said he did nothing wrong and violated no rules or department policies when he embarked on the sweep, designed to crack down on racing enthusiasts and spectators clogging west Houston parking lots. Aguirre also said HPD’s administration had approved plans for the operation, but scapegoated officers when the controversy became a political firestorm.


Aguirre speculated Tuesday that former Mayor Lee Brown directed all charges be dropped to protect former Police Chief C.O. Bradford, who publicly disavowed knowledge of the raid. When pressed, Aguirre could not provide proof, saying only, “That’s my gut feeling.”

What I know is this: That raid was a FUBAR of the first order. Someone, probably several someones, needed to be accountable for it. It’s possible that Aguirre is being railroaded, though if there’s any injustice here it’s much more likely to be the case that Aguirre didn’t have enough company on the unemployment line. For sure, a “gut feeling” on his part isn’t enough to convince me that the fix was in.

I will be surprised if Aguirre wins his case. If he does, then it’s highly likely that former Mayor Lee Brown and former HPD Chief C.O. “BAMF” Bradford got off way too lightly. That may be the case anyway, of course, but until someone like an arbiter agrees with Aguirre that he got shafted, the official story will remain in effect.

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  1. Mike Switzer says:

    c’mon anybody who watched “Homicide” or watches “The Wire” knows that how it goes down. The mayor and/or chief or other higher up in the dept. o.k something and then when it goes wrong a guy further down the chain of command takes the fall.
    If Aguirre didn’t know what was going to happen it’s only because he has bad taste in television…

  2. Steve Bates says:

    Aguirre deserves a second chance… but not as a cop. What he did was unconscionable and unconstitutional. What has happened to him since is regrettable, but he could have prevented it all by acting the way a police officer is supposed to act in a civilized society. Brown’s and Bradford’s responsibility in the matter may not be fully known, but what Aguirre did was right out in front of God and everybody. Back pay? No. Offer him an anger management class and a job as a greeter at Wal-Mart, contingent on good behavior.

  3. toomuch says:

    Mr. Bates, were you there that night or did you get all of your information from the spin that your corrupt, idiotic police chief and mayor told you. Good ole boy network is alive and kicking in Houston but this time the color is black.