Members of the Houston Police Officer’s Union (HPOU) are contending the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is jeopardizing their ability to protect the public by denying the city’s police detectives access to their investigative database.
“DA’s office playing politics w/public safety and endangering Houstonians by denying our detectives access to a very important database. They are specifically targeting HPD, every other agency in HC still has access,” HPOU President Joe Gamaldi said in a tweet yesterday:
According to KTRK, HPD and Harris County DA Kim Ogg continue to clash openly about the her office’s approach to criminal bonds and other issues. Union reps like Gamaldi claim the database lockout is in retaliation.
HPD union reps reportedly held a meeting with members of the DA’s Office Friday. The following Monday, 5,200 HPD officers couldn’t access the Consolidated Criminal History Database, which lists suspect data like criminal histories and crime victims.
The error message displayed when HPD officers attempted to access the database said it was down for maintenance, but also stated it would “give HCDAO (Harris County District Attorney’s Office) time to review and update our MOU (Memo of Understanding) to share this information with HPD,” according to Gamaldi, who claims no other Houston law enforcement agency was shut out of the system.
An email from the DA’s director of communications to KTRK stated:
This is an intra-agency matter regarding the security of information and technology. It is a matter to be addressed by the leadership of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Houston Police Department.
The database’s error message apparently changed after the DA’s office was contacted by reporters to exclude any mention of HPD.
Though the information in the database is available through other channels, Gamaldi contends using them would stretch the time to obtain information from minutes to hours, and negatively impact public safety.