Serving part of the Southwest Management District, the Houston Police Department’s Midwest Division is a major command with about 160 police officers and eight civilians. It covers 19 square miles, including an area south of the Katy Freeway, west of Loop 610 West to the Hunters Creek city limits and north of U.S. 59/69.
Q: Please tell us a little about yourself.
A: I’m from the Boston area, where I grew up. I attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut. I had been interested for a long time in a potential career in law enforcement and learned that HPD was hiring. I was excited by the idea of heading across the country and becoming an officer in a big city right off, so I applied. That was 22 years ago. After I completed the police academy, began working in patrol. The rest as followed.
Q: So, you’ve been in one organization and have stepped up the ranks?
A: Yes. I loved patrol and worked hard to learn the area now known as Midwest Division. It’s a big area with lots of varied challenges. It’s very diverse and has a huge number of apartment complexes (about 200) with foreign consulates, many retail shops that include those in the Galleria area, the Uptown District and more.
I was promoted to sergeant in 2009 after nine years in patrol. I made lieutenant in 2013. I spent seven years working homicides and then major assault cases. I have a pretty well-rounded view of things and that experience pays off in dealing with issues and leading an organization. This is a great division, and I love the challenges and my team working very hard to serve the people in our area.
Q: You began your new role in January. What are some of the biggest issues you and your team face?
A: Well, violent crime is a very major concern. The mayor and the chief of police have spoken a lot about all we’re doing as a department to stem an increase. I know we’re making some real progress. For now, aggravated assaults are down, robberies are down, but we’ve continued to see an increase in vehicle-related crimes, which is something that’s true not only here but across the nation. We’re trying hard to counter that trend.
Our strategies include increasing awareness, working with homeowners’ associations and working with residents to go after such crimes and prosecute them.
Policing has also made huge progress using data and intelligence. We analyze what is occurring and what is likely to occur, and we can target our efforts accordingly. We have crime suppression teams ready to go both night and day.
Q: What are some things that average citizens can do to help?
A: Well, we depend on our communication with the public. And, we are reinforcing the message of people safeguarding belongings and locking their cars. It sounds simple, but one of the things we see is that people can be a little more vigilant. Sometimes my officers do some simple surveys of areas and leave a note on cars where we’ve discovered them left unlocked or with shopping bags filled with expensive items left out in the open. It’s like a report card for the citizen. It shows we’re on the job and we care, so it’s very positive outreach.
Another key part is building the understanding that we can’t be everywhere, and that people make a huge difference as eyes and ears. Citizens should never think it’s a bother to reach out to us when they see or feel that something is just not right. We want to receive their calls, and if we go to a situation that proves to be nothing, that’s okay. Our dispatchers are trained to triage calls and we’d respond appropriately. But communicating with us is vital. If people see something, they should say something.
I work to build that understanding with a lot of activities and meetings with community groups and business organizations. At the end of the day, it’s all about communication with those we serve.
Q: What would some not know about you off the job?
A: Well, I’m married. I am a proud of my four-legged kids (dogs). I live in Houston and I love the area, and enjoy spending time outdoors. I run.
I’m involved in the community at the Houston Zen Center. I got started with taking a class in meditation in 2008, and I became more and more involved in meditation and mindfulness and how that can help people. I enjoy looking for ways to deepen and share my knowledge, and I serve on the Zen Center board.
I also enjoy writing (published a novel in 2018 in the private eye genre). I was an English major in college – and, amazingly, I still use English every day!