HOUSTON (FOX 26) — In the 157th Judicial Court, Judge Randy Wilson listened to several witnesses speak about City of Houston Proposition B, including Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo.
"My role in there was just answer the questions," says Chief Art Acevedo. "It seems like a lot of the questions was what would be the impact on police services and without a doubt, if we move forward, an immediate and very real and noticeable invisible impact on police services in our city."
Chief Acevedo adds that the impact could mean massive layoffs for the Houston police and fire departments as well as for municipal employees, all to make up for the $100 million needed annually to pay firefighters as much as police officers.
"It’s a range anywhere from 600 positions that we would have to eliminate, which would be a combination of cadets, probation, police officers, officers that are already off probation, all the way up to 800," says Chief Acevedo.
"It’s a serious matter of consequences for all of the parties involved," says Houston City Attorney Ronald Lewis. "Firefighters believe they have a position and the city has a need to administer the correct law. That is our responsibility to the public and we need the court, whose job it is to determine what the laws to make sure that we do what is correct."
Chief Acevedo also says that out of the top five cities in Texas, Houston is currently ranked third when it comes to police salary and has sometimes hundreds or thousands less employees when compared to other cities of similar size throughout the U.S.
"Over the last twenty years, you know, we have about 300 you were officers today then we had 20 years ago, but 500,000 more people you know people don’t realize in this community doesn’t realize just have a small this please department Chicago is about 13,000 for about 248 mi.² and we are at 5100 with 640 mi.² so we can’t afford to lose police officers but we will just let the process take its course”.
Houston Fire Department Chief Sam Peña spoke to FOX 26 over the phone and said the following:
As the fire chief, I want what’s best for my firefighters and this community and we will see what the judges ruling is next week. Once we confirm with the city legal team, we will move forward as needed.