Continued Scrutiny of HFD

The fallout continues over issues within the Houston Fire Department. Houston councilmembers are at odds over hiring an independent law firm to make recommendations on the department's HR policies. Laurie Johnson has more.

A slew of racist and sexist incidents at the Houston Fire Department has prompted new scrutiny into the department's internal policies.

The Houston Office of Inspector General is investigating situations in which two female firefighters were the targets of slurs.

Houston Mayor Bill White wants the city to hire a law firm to consult with HFD about their policies.

"Making sure that certain types of disputes and complaints are resolved in a way that where there's good and effective and open communication, where there's not reprisal or retaliation from complaints and there's no rush to judgment either."

But the mayor's request for council approval to hire a law firm raised a firestorm of comments.

Jolanda Jones expressed concerns that councilmembers and the administration would have too much control over the process.

"The precedent is that you hire them, you pay them the money, you tell them what the problems are and then you walk away. That's how you make sure that the entity that's paying for the outside, independent investigation is truly independent. So where we have any control over it after we pay them to do it, I'm forced to vote no."

After an hour of discussion, council voted to delay the hire of a law firm for two weeks. They'll discuss the matter again in a public safety
committee meeting next week.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
 

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...