Continued Scrutiny of HFD
by: Laurie Johnson, July 22, 2009 9:07:05 pm
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.