By Larry Keane
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo is rolling out the welcome mat to police frustrated with cities enacting “defund police” policies. Chief Acevedo is looking to fill 400 vacancies and he’s telling police frustrated with progressive policies to head to Houston. It’s like a swimmer at a shark-infested beach saying to come on in, the water’s fine.
“We’re fortunate we have a mayor and a council … that understands that our community doesn’t want less policing, they don’t want to defund the police, they want better policing and they want good cops,” Chief Acevedo told Fox and Friends.
Chief Acevedo, though, is no stranger to using his uniform to push political agendas and siding with the same politicians who embrace the “defund police” movement, including Houston’s U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green (D-Texas). He’s a Capitol Hill regular, most recently testifying against calls to defund police departments, but’s been there as a vocal gun control supporter. “And I believe that we can do better in terms of limiting access to firearms to law-abiding Americans of sound mind,” he told Texas Monthly last year.
That’s right. Chief Acevedo, the top cop in one of America’s most populous cities, thinks more should be done to limit law-abiding Americans from exercising their God-given rights.
In that same interview, Chief Avecedo pontificated on how he sees his role in policing and community safety.
Policing Gun Owners
“I want to be a twenty-first-century police chief,” he explained to Texas Monthly. “I think most police chiefs today, what they want to do is change from the ‘Hey, let’s be tough on crime’ mind-set to a mind-set of ‘Let’s be appropriate on crime. Let’s be strategic on crime. Let’s make decisions based on the threat a person truly poses.’ To me, being progressive means that when it comes to people who aren’t hurting others, we need to focus on the restorative approach, to help them get their lives on track.”
Chief Acevedo is the president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which supports reinstating the failed 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and instituting universal background checks, which is unworkable without a national registry of gun owners. Major Cities Chiefs Association also wants to ban standard capacity magazines, ban internet ammunition sales for a scheme of record-keeping of licensing and record-keeping of sales by vendors.
Chief among the chief’s progressive policing approach is a “get-tough-on-gun-control” agenda. Chief Acevedo was among Congressional witnesses begging the U.S. House of Representatives to enact strict gun control measures in a hearing last year. He urged the criminalization of private firearm transfers and passage of universal background checks and wants a national “red flag” law that would circumvent due-process rights, protections against illegal search-and-seizure and the right to a speedy hearing.
“Doing nothing is not acceptable,” Chief Acevedo admonished lawmakers.
It wasn’t the first time Chief Acevedo lashed out at lawmakers for not going along with his gun control ideas. He blasted U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) following the tragic murder of a Houston police officer in December 2019.
“I don’t want to see their little smug faces about how much they care about law enforcement when I’m burying a sergeant because they don’t want to piss off the NRA,” Chief Acevedo said. “Choose sides,” he added. “It’s right and wrong, and it’s not that complicated.”
The Houston Police Officers’ Union rebuked the outburst.
“The fact that Chief Acevedo chose that moment to make a political statement on guns, is nothing short of offensive and inappropriate,” stated the HPOU Executive Board in a letter. “There is a time and place for every discussion and this was neither the time nor the place.”
Chief Acevedo’s political acumen is growing. He most recently starred in the Democratic National Convention for a police reform panel with former Vice President Joe Biden. He joined Black Lives Matter in May telling protestors, “We will march as a department with everybody in this community. I will march until I can’t stand no more.” Black Lives Matter supports defunding police.
Police leaving departments targeted by defunding movements won’t find clear waters in Houston. They’ll find a police chief who embraces radical agendas that deny Americans their rights and fail to make safer communities.
Lawrence Keane is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry trade association.