A local activist group that advocates for criminal justice reform and monitors law enforcement is calling for a federal and state investigation into comments made last week by the president of the police union after five HPD officers were wounded in a shootout while serving a search warrant.
Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, said on January 28 that police “are sick and tired of having targets on our back.” He also said “we’ve got your number now, we’re going to be keeping track” of people who say law enforcement is the enemy. Gamaldi didn’t mention any person or organization by name, but referenced people who “stir the pot” with rhetoric about police officers.
The Greater Houston Coalition for Justice said in a statement Gamaldi “is inciting tensions between police and communities with his egregious comments” and his words justify a federal and state investigation.
Johnny Mata, the group’s presiding officer, noted that “Gamaldi went too far and all the work that has been done by a lot of people cannot go down the drain.” Mata fears the comments “will have a chilling effect on police-community relations.”
Randall Kallinen, a well-known local civil rights lawyer, said the comments made by the HPOU president are what the security forces of a “dictator” would say.
HPD Chief Art Acevedo has also criticized Gamaldi. He said last week that his comments were “over the top.”
Acevedo said HPD has received “a lot of phone calls” from the community denouncing Gamaldi’s remarks.