Efficiency and Effectiveness: Chief Art Acevedo’s Energizing First Six Months

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 6/9/2017, 8:25 a.m.
Six months ago when Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Art Acevedo as the new head of the Houston Police Department many …

Six months ago when Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Art Acevedo as the new head of the Houston Police Department many were scratching their heads wondering who this man was. Mayor Turner painted a vivid picture of which Acevedo was but until action is seen, well, talk in cheap. Turns out Acevedo wasn’t cheap but efficient and effective making his combining with Houston a very energizing experience.

Being efficient and effect is key with any job but when your job is one that has limited resources at its availability. Efficiency is frequently defined as the act of doing things right while effectiveness is about the right things. Those “double e’s” are critically crucial to any organization and key to its success. Chief Acevedo recognized that early on and has been using those two e’s as his guide to propel officers and citizens in the best way to get the maximum safety for officers and the community.

In his recent press conference where he reviewed his first six months on the job one thing was crystal clear, it’s a new day for Houston and Harris County with Acevedo at the helm. He is constantly in a review and strategize type of mode of operations for the Houston Police Department from the way they handle paperwork to how they investigate crimes. It’s his way of “focusing on what matters most” which are life, limb, and property.

They are not killing as many trees as they use to at HPD since the paperwork process has been streamlined to stop duplication of certain paperwork and unnecessary processes. Under this same header, Chief Acevedo is implementing a new dispatch system that has the safety of Houston’s disabled population in mind. Often we hear of officers handling those with certain communications challenges as that of autism, Alzheimer’s and dementia improperly when they first encounter them because of lack of knowledge of the person. A system will now be put in place where families can flag the 911 system about their loved ones with these challenges if they go missing so that officers can be on the look over for them as they do their job, know how to approach them and understand their challenge. This is a move Chief Acevedo hopes saves lives.

Another change is the increase of leveling of the organization. It is usually commonplace for the police department to have a patrol staffing study every ten years. Well, that is too long in Acevedo’s book. HPD reviews will be done annually. Chief Acevedo calls this a way to be data driven.

Under Chief Acevedo’s command, no officer is above the law. He believes in disciplining officers when they are found to be in the wrong but not at that detriment of citizens’ safety. The old way an officer was disciplined had the wrongdoing officer placed under suspension, turning in all his equipment and waiting at home during the investigation. When an officer is out of the line of duty like that, it makes the remaining good officers’ jobs harder to catch the slack left by the suspended officer’ absence. Positive discipline will now be enforced instead of a suspension for those officers who have done wrong and understand their consequences. Officers will continue to work, keep their equipment but will lose vacation days. In this matter other officers will not be overworked, community’s safety is not jeopardized and the officer can learn from mistakes made. Coupled with that will be a new Bypass Policy for consistency and fairness with how long disciplinary actions can be used against a wrongdoing officer.

All of these new and different approaches to leadership and operations are Chief Acevedo’s way of being transparent and fair. “I believe that transparency breeds trust. Trust breeds cooperation and respect. Cooperation and respect breeds better outcomes for all our stakeholders,” said Chief Acevedo.

Having the community’s trust is paramount for Chief Acevedo and he knows he can’t gain that unless he does his job in the most effective way. A number one target of that effectiveness for any officer is keeping citizens safe by reducing crime. HPD is approaching this by making the ways that they investigate and solve crimes faster and better. Chief Acevedo has given his officers a goal of investigations taking no longer than 180 days. Nonfatal shootings will be worked like homicides to investigate every angle and hopefully prevent future homicides. Officers will no long keep bankers hours of Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4 pm but will expand their shifts to include nights, weekends and holidays.

Changes are also happening for HPD”s virtual home for social efficiency. Police will enhance their relationship with the media to have a more informed public to build trust in the community and get them engaged. Citizens will notice that HPD is more socially engaged with real-time coverage of what they are doing and how they are working. A piece of this community engagement will soon give volunteers the opportunity to ride with officers on calls to offer translating services. The Communicators on Patrol Program is a volunteer program to help police with language barriers in working in our very diverse city.

Chief Acevedo is just getting started in this overhaul of the Houston Police Department. More is up his sleeve as he pushes Houston in this unique way. Mayor Turner said he liked Chief Acevedo for the way he thinks differently and operates uniquely. It is widely known that if things continue in a common way the end results are the same. Examining operations with a new mindset and vision results in efficient and effective outcomes allowing Houston to be the energizing city it needs to be.

With the perseverance and passion that Acevedo takes in executing the duties of his office, his love for Houston and its people is evident. We are all made the better and safer for it. Chief Acevedo has fallen in love with Houston and we are falling for him. Here’s hoping that this path of efficiency and effectiveness has enduring effects in the life of Houston.