Mayor Whitmire wants to add Metro cops to HPD

On its face this makes sense.

Mayor John Whitmire said he’s negotiating with Metro to combine its almost 400 public safety employees with Houston’s Police Department under Chief Troy Finner.

The transit group’s police department, with a budget in 2024 of around $40.8 million and a staff just shy of 399 could be a force multiplier, Whitmire said, with officers responding to where crimes occur, whether that’s on a bus or train or in surrounding neighborhoods.

Such a measure would take approval from Metro’s board. Representatives for the transit group did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the mayor’s plan. But Whitmire said he’s been negotiating with Metro and expected to have board buy-in soon.

“When I started in public service all those years ago, we had park and airport police,” Whitmire said. “We eventually placed those inside the police department. I think most people would tell you that really worked out well.”

The mayor’s comments Thursday are the most direct indication of his vision for adding additional resources to the city’s police department, but he has signaled since the campaign that he wanted Metro and the Houston Police Department to work together more.

“Metro, 280 officers, ought to be working with HPD,” Whitmire said at a debate. “We don’t need to take their money, although their money will follow them when they work in concert with HPD.”


In discussing plans to combine the police officers in both agencies, Whitmire said everyone in Metro police currently would retain their jobs under his plan. He said he hopes officers would shift to focus on more traffic enforcement, while it would also open up the possibility of current police officers patrolling on buses and railcars.

Whitmire said he was concerned about crime at Metro bus stations and on buses and cars, and law enforcement would continue focusing on that even when combined. But working as one unit would enable officers more freedom to respond to where crime occurs.

I mean, at the most basic level this would add a couple hundred more officers to HPD, which is an explicit promise Whitmire made during the campaign, so as far as that goes it makes all kinds of sense. I presume that the removal of the distinction between the two would increase flexibility, which also makes sense. It should be noted that Metro’s service area includes quite a lot of turf that isn’t in the city of Houston, which presents some obvious jurisdiction questions for which I have no obvious answers. I presume there are a bunch of other details that are not enumerated in this article, some of which may present additional obstacles or other challenges, and that would be something for the Metro board to consider as well as the Mayor.

From Metro’s perspective, the question is whether this makes sense for them. How would the finances of it work? What level of coverage on Metro buses and trains and at transit centers and park and rides would there be? It would be nice for Metro to cooperate, but not at the expense of their mission. If I were on the Metro board – and let’s be clear, the Mayor will get to appoint people to the Board, so this is a limited-time ability here – I might seek to get the Mayor on record about his plans for Metro before taking any action on this.

Anyway. Without knowing anything more, and modulo those “not in Houston” concerns, this sounds reasonable and sensible. Now I’d like to hear some more.

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4 Responses to Mayor Whitmire wants to add Metro cops to HPD

  1. Jonathan Freeman says:

    The Mayor recognizes there is too much crime on Metro busses and their bus stops already. Doesn’t that mean the only part of the equation getting a force multiplier would be Metro’s areas of responsibility? Presumably, the same statutory responsibilities will have to be covered under this plan and HPD has fewer officers than it had years ago.

    I also have concerns that the Mayor thinks they should spend more time writing tickets instead of addressing real crimes. Metro sitting in HOV lanes or getting those going a few miles over the speed limit just isn’t a priority of mine. Am I wrong?

  2. Pingback: On hiring more cops | Off the Kuff

  3. Señora Stacy says:

    Excited about this opportunity for our City. It’s about responsiveness, expanding jurisdiction, thoughtfully allocating and deploying resources for all Houstonians when and where they’re needed. Hope it works out.

  4. J says:

    This link is about crime in California, not Texas, but I wanted to take the opportunity to counter a BS narrative being pushed on Fox News and other conservative sources about crime in blue areas like California. The story shows the biggest crime problems are in GOP counties in California. Worth a read.

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