HOUSTON – Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo is leaving the department for a new job, the local police union said. Doug Griffith, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, confirmed Acevedo has accepted the position to become the next police chief in Miami, according to reports.
“We appreciate his service to Houston, and wish him the best in Miami,” Griffith said in a statement.
Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner, also had kind words for his long time friend and the man he hired in 2016.
“The only thing that I ask is that while you are here you do an exceptional job, and he has done just that,” Mayor Turner said.
But Turner was somewhat blindsided by the departure, just learning of Acevedo’s new plans, Sunday, he said.
Acevedo tearfully thanked Houston and the department Tuesday after officially announcing his pending departure to become Miami’s top cop, click2Houston reported.
Surrounded by several members of the Houston Police Department, Acevedo said he wanted everyone to understand how he came to the decision to leave Houston.
“I decided to take the Miami position because Miami is a world-class city like Houston,” Acevedo said. “Miami is an international city like Houston. Miami is the gateway to Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. It is a very diverse community like Houston.”
Acevedo continued by saying everything is about timing. He said when the opportunity to become police chief in Miami was presented, he had been heavily thinking about what was next.
“My heart was like, ‘What am I going to do next?’ I love being a cop. I love cops. I’ve been contemplating what’s next,” he said.
Acevedo said he contemplated taking a federal position with a one of the biggest departments in the country, and he also contemplated going back to Los Angeles to run for sheriff or join the private sector.
Acevedo ultimately decided to accept the position in Miami on Monday. He said after having a short professional courtship with the Mayor of Miami, he felt that the two of them really connected.
Acevedo’s career began as a member of the California Highway Patrol in 1986. He rose to the rank of chief with the department in 2005, but left unceremoniously following a retaliation lawsuit against former CHP Commissioner Dwight “Spike” Helmick.
The CHP agreed in 2008 to pay a $995,000 settlement to a Acevedo who alleged he was retaliated against after he sought the top job in the agency and reported unfair practices to others, the Los Angeles Times reported.
At the time, the CHP issued a statement saying the settlement was not an admission of fault.
“It does allow both parties to move forward and put the potential of protracted litigation and escalating costs behind them,” the statement said.
The CHP payment followed a decision by the state personnel board that found Helmick and others retaliated against Acevedo after the chief sought the commissioner’s job in 2004, the Times reported.
Acevedo was hired to be Austin’s police chief in 2007. He remained there until moving to Houston in 2016.
The HPD chief weighed in on who he thought would be a good fit for the next police chief in Houston. Acevedo said he hopes Mayor Turner will consider one of HPD’s executive assistant chiefs for the position.
“I’ve been praying for that,” Acevedo said. “I would challenge any member of the community. If they look at how the summer of protests across this country — and we saw buildings burning and so many bad things happening — to compare the performance of our department to a lot of other departments and the relationship with this community and this department.”
Acevedo said his departure would allow for someone else in the department to have an opportunity to grow.
“We’re going to leave this department in great hands. I will be leaving a big piece of my heart in Houston. I’ll be leaving a big piece of my heart in Texas,” Acevedo said.
Things became a little heated during the news conference as Acevedo mentioned the Harris County court system, click2Houston reported.
“The crimefighting strategies aren’t the issue. When you have a court system that’s shut down because of COVID or Harvey, what’s the next excuse? Get those courts open. If they don’t want to work, get out,” Acevedo said.
The fight to get repeat offenders off the streets of Houston has been an issue Acevedo says he’s been working on since he became chief.
Acevedo said he will continue to help Houston and see through certain incidents that happened under his watch like the Harding Street raid.
“I’ll be back for Harding Street. I’ll be continuing to watch Harding Street. I want to see this through. it happened on my watch and I’ll like to see this through,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo did not detail when his last day would be in Houston, but Mayor Sylvester Turner is expected to make an announcement about the next chief this week.