HOUSTON (FOX 26) - With a New Year just around the corner, there's reason to reflect on 2017 and how Houston came together during times of both tragedy and triumph, and one city leader is speaking candidly about it.
Chief Art Acevedo has been Houston's Police Chief for over a year and what a year it has been. Houston kicked off 2017 with a Super Bowl, then in October Earned History with a World Series win. And who could forget Harvey.
"I am serving in a city that truly is offering a glimpse of what America is going to look like in 5, 10, 15 years," says Chief Art Acevedo.
An immigrant from Cuba, Chief Acevedo has served the city for over a year. He was with the California Highway Patrol for 21 years then became Chief in Austin, Texas, before moving to Houston.
"The worst thing to happen to me is to be idle. I don't like being idle. I like being on the move. The Houston Police Department is on the move," says Chief Acevedo.
On the move they are.
A year that started with Houston playing host to Super Bowl LI, where leaders had three years to plan, to events where the people and police had very little warning.
"The most stressful part of Harvey, obviously, was to deal with the death of Sgt. Perez," recalls Chief Acevedo. "When you lose one of your own, it's a part of your family and when you think about some of the residents we lost here, including a van full of family members that got swept away, it just breaks your heart."
The world watching as an emotional Chief shared the tragic news while the city continued dealing with the historic floods.
Then the Chief offered some of his observations, after being on the job for over a year.
"I didn't realize just how lean our department was until I got here," he says. "We can't have a department that's serving a city of 2.3, 2.4 million people, fastest growing, big city, 640 square miles with 5,200 officers and contrast that with the city of Chicago that's 248 square miles with almost 13,000 officers."
Houston Police responding to over 260 homicides so far in 2017, that number down around 30 from this time last year.
"What I told my team when I got here, we weren't responding to non-fatal shootings. Well the way that you prevent murders is to solve attempted murders and put these bad people behind bars," says the Chief.
Chief Acevedo also saying trust must be at the foundation of any relationship built between those in blue and the people they serve.
"The more that we can do to create relationships of respect and trust, the more effective we're going to be," says Chief Acevedo. "In 2018, instead of talking about bathroom bills that were nothing more than political theater and sanctuary cities that don't even exist in Texas, I hope this legislature, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor will start focusing on true matters of public safety."
Chief Acevedo referencing 20,000 documented gang members in Houston. In 2018 gang officers, as Chief Acevedo calls them, will patrol more often in the evening when a lot of gang related activity occurs.