— OutSmart Magazine (@outsmarthouston) June 22, 2017
By John Wright
The Houston Police Department has outfitted one of its patrol SUVs with LGBTQ Pride decals for Saturday’s parade.
“It was actually supposed bo be a community surprise, but the cat’s out of the bag,” said HPD spokeswoman Jodi Silva, referring to photos of the SUV that were posted on social media Thursday.
Last year, under Chief Art Acevedo, the Austin Police Department repainted one of its SUVs for the city’s Pride parade, at a cost of about $1,100. However, Silva said the decals on the HPD vehicle are temporary, and the SUV will be returned to regular service after the parade. Acevedo is now the police chief in Houston.
“Chief did this last year in Austin following the Orlando shooting, so he decided it would be a great thing to do for the Houston community also,” Silva said. “We have a very prominent place in the parade this year.”
Silva said HPD’s entry will be first in the parade lineup. In addition to Acevedo and the SUV, the entry will include most of the department’s command staff.
“It’s just another measure of how we do community policing and relational policing,” Silva said of the Pride decals.
In 2016, at least one city official questioned Acevedo’s decision to repaint the Austin police SUV, the Austin Stateman reported.
“I consider the temporary decal design as unauthorized markings of a city vehicle,” assistant city manager Rey Arellano wrote to Acevedo at the time. “If you made a commitment to anyone/group, I’d like to hear how you’re going to retract that commitment, both to the external group and your chain of command.”
Acevedo told the Statesman that he later met with Arellano and explained that the vehicle had been requested by the city’s LGBTQ police officer’s association in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre.
“I’m thankful that after I discussed the matter with the assistant city manager, that he appreciated the purpose for the car and the value it brings to our community,” Acevedo said.
Late Friday, the anti-LGBTQ Houston Area Pastor Council issued a statement alleging that “a taxpayer funded law enforcement vehicle and uniformed personnel are being authorized for use as propaganda for a clearly controversial and political agenda.”
The group also alleged that it’s “a violation of equal protection for all citizens by having HPD as well as Houston Fire Department vehicles and uniformed personnel marching in this parade that features men and women in lewd and vulgar dress and acts.”
“The coalition of pastors is reviewing and considering options on how they will respond to what they call ‘another round of Unequal rights by the City of Houston,’ however they made it clear that there will indeed be accountability,” the group wrote. “As we reminded the HISD Superintendent this week after he announced he wants to use our children as guinea pigs to bring San Francisco ideology to Houston schools, we will also remind Chief Art Acevedo: This is not Austin and the people of Houston have made it clear we don’t want our city government used for the personal political agenda of the Mayor or the Police Chief.”