HOUSTON - Houston officially has a new police chief.
Wednesday morning City Council Members unanimously confirmed Art Acevedo as police chief of the Houston Police Department.
Dozens of officers from Houston filled City Hall, along with Acevedo’s successor and several of his former officers in Austin, where he served as chief for nine years.
Many council members said they were impressed with Acevedo after spending the day with him in San Antonio Tuesday on a delegation looking for solutions to fighting homelessness.
Still several did ask him tough questions about his background, including the firing of an officer involved in a deadly police shooting and his opposition to campus carry.
The chief said at the end of the day, his job is to enforce the law and exercise what he calls “relational policing.”
“Every person that we contact as members of the Houston police department, whether it’s that 911 operator, that crime scene tech, police officers on the front line, detectives, is an opportunity to create the relationship,” he said.
The entire room also gave a standing ovation to Martha Montalvo, who served as interim chief since February.
Council members thanked her for leadership during some of the city’s toughest moments, including helping track down the killer of Josue Flores.
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Acevedo was the police chief in Austin for nearly a decade and before that he was with the California Highway Patrol where he rose to division chief.
However, he is no stranger to controversy, and digging into his past shows that.
Earlier this year the Austin Police Union released a survey showing 52 percent of his officers thought department morale was low. And 42 percent said they did not think Acevedo could effectively lead the department in the future.
Also this year, Acevedo was reprimanded and docked five days pay for violating the city manager’s direct order to stop publicly talking about a deadly police shooting during an internal investigation.
This was after the shooting death of a 17-year-old unarmed black man by an officer. Acevedo ended up firing that officer and stood with a Black Lives Matter group at a press conference – something that the Austin Police Union was not happy about.
Now, Acevedo does have a history of trying to strengthen community ties – one of the reasons why Mayor Sylvester Turner says he hired him after HPD has long been criticized for excessive use of deadly force.