Houston Police Union Leader's Comments Draw Ire

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Posted: Jan 30, 2019 1:00 PM
Houston Police Union Leader's Comments Draw Ire

Source: AP Photo/Eric Gay

At 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan 30, a search warrant for a house turned into a gun battle between two suspects and the narcotics officers sent to investigate their house. The engagement ended with four officers shot and both suspects dead.

During a press conference early Monday evening addressing the shooting, Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union, vented frustration in a moment of informality.

"We are sick and tired of having targets on our back," he said. "We are sick and tired of having dirtbags trying to take our lives when all we're trying to do is protect this community and protect our families."

It was a more inflammatory comment, however, that has earned him ire and unfriendly attention.

"If you're the ones out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy," he said, "well just know we've all got your number now. We're going to be keeping track on all of y'all, and we're going to make sure to hold you accountable every time you stir the pot on our police officers."

After making these comments, Gamaldi justified his statements on Tuesday saying,

"For me... it was just vocalizing what the 5,200 brave men and women of the Houston Police Department were thinking... and that is we are sick and tired of having targets placed on our back. We are sick and tired of people painting us as the bad guy."

Activists were not happy with Gamaldi's comments. Ashton Woods, a Black Lives Matter organizer for the group's Houston branch, expressed concern over Gamaldi's motivations, saying,

"It looks like police are trying to get aggressive and using this as an excuse to clamp down on black and brown communities, where there's a problem with policing in the first place."

Houston police Chief Art Acevedo offered his comments on Gamaldi's emotional anecdotes.

"I think what you're seeing from Joe is just the frustration of his brothers and sisters being shot at and actually knowing there were two guys," he said, referring to the officers who were in critical condition after the shooting. "We weren't sure that one or two of them weren't going to make it last night. So I think the nerves are a little frayed."