CITY OF HOUSTON
INTER OFFICE CORRESPONDENCE
TO: Alternative Dispute Resolution Unit FROM: R. D. Holtsclaw, Senior Police Officer
DATE: July 18, 2011
SUBJECT: Grievance Regarding Involuntary
On November 16, 2010, representatives from the Houston Area Motorcycle Riders (HAMR) and the Texas Motorcyclists Rights Association (TMRA) rallied at Houston’s City Hall to demand that City Ordinance 30-3, “Noisy Vehicles Generally,” be revised. These representatives accused me of using the ordinance to harass them and claimed that Houston’s noise code was too subjective and therefore “void for vagueness.”
Three days later, November 19, 2010, I was removed from my patrol assignment and placed on an administrative assignment pending a very thorough investigation. I remained on that administrative assignment for five-months and one-week until the evidence, relevant to a frivolous complaint from area motorcyclists, was shown to be utter nonsense. I was cited, via Supervisory Intervention (SI), for having protected my hearing when the illegally loud motorcycles operated by members of HAMR and the TMRA passed only feet from my position near the 611 Walker Building on the day of the rally.
On June 21, 2011, representatives from HAMR and the TMRA, once again, rallied at Houston’s City Hall and demanded that I be transferred or “fired” for having, in their opinion, harassed motorcyclists in my area of responsibility in west Houston. On June 16, 2011, I was, once again, removed from my patrol assignment and placed on an administrative assignment as per Lieutenant Paul Ryza, Westside Division. No one adequately explained to me why I had been removed from my patrol assignment, but a popular assumption suggested that another frivolous complaint from an area motorcyclist had, once again, been accepted by the Internal Affairs Division.
On July 8, 2011, in response to having been involuntarily reassigned to administrative duties, I submitted a letter titled “Request Meeting with Chief of Police and Mayor regarding Noise Enforcement Initiative,” via my Chain-of-Command, asking why I had, once again, been involuntarily reassigned. This letter was apparently stopped at Division level and returned by Captain Mary Lentschke or perhaps the letter was returned by Assistant Chief J. Chen.
On July 15, 2011, 1000 hours, I was ordered to meet with Lieutenant Paul Ryza in his office. Also present at this meeting was my Patrol Supervisor, Sergeant Michael Mikeska. Lieutenant Ryza informed me that my letter, dated July 8, 2011, would not proceed up the Chain-of-Command in its current format because he had received information as to why I was involuntarily reassigned. According to Lieutenant Ryza, someone, either in the Mayor’s Office, Chief’s Office, or Internal Affairs, was under the impression that an area motorcyclist had filed a formal complaint against me. As of my meeting with Lieutenant Ryza on July 15, 2011, the Lieutenant admitted that no such formal complaint had ever been formalized. The logical question subsequent to this information is, “Why have I been involuntarily reassigned and why do I remain on that involuntary reassignment?
According to Lieutenant Ryza, I have been reassigned from patrol duties to an administrative assignment until such time the City of Houston decides how it is going to proceed with the controversial issues related to City of Houston Ordinance, 30-3, “Noisy Vehicles Generally.” I respectfully suggest that this reasoning, relevant to my involuntary reassignment, is wholly unfair and unfounded.
While serving five-months and one-week on my previous reassignment as a result of frivolous complaints from area motorcyclists, I regularly responded to my Municipal Court subpoenas. I was successful in adjudicating perhaps hundreds of noise violations prior to the motorcycle protest rally at City Hall that took place on Tuesday, November 16, 2010. Subsequent to this protest rally, prosecutors in the various Municipal Courts began summarily dismissing my noise citations written under City Ordinance, 30-3. I learned that, according to a prosecutor who was in the process of dismissing one of my citations in Municipal Court #18, that the citations were being dismissed because “there may be a problem with our law.” Note, this is after the City Legal Department had reviewed the Ordinance in question and formalized a letter stating that I was authorized to use the Ordinance to cite motor vehicles illegally equipped with loud modified and aftermarket exhaust mechanisms.
On Sunday, May 1, 2011, I returned to patrol duty and, in addition to my responsibility to respond to calls-for-service, I, once again, began issuing citations to excessively loud motor vehicles. Since May 1, 2011, I have used Texas Transportation Code 547.604, “Muffler Required,” in lieu of City Ordinance, 30-3, “Noisy Vehicles Generally.” In other words, there is absolutely no reason for me to be reassigned pending a decision by the City Legal Department relevant to a noise ordinance…I no longer use the ordinance and evidence of this fact can be verified by reviewing the citations I’ve written since Sunday, May 1, 2011.
Also consider the fact that an HPD Circular, No. 11-0616-115 (see attached copy), dated June 16, 2011, states, “until further notice is given, officers will not issue citations pursuant to City of Houston Ordinance 30-3.” The HPD Circular then stipulates, “Enforcement and citations pursuant to Texas Transportation Code Section 547.604, Muffler Required; Texas Penal Code 42.01, Disorderly Conduct and Other Related Offenses; and other applicable laws are still authorized.” Again, there is absolutely no reason for me to have been reassigned pending a decision by the City Legal Department relevant to a noise ordinance seeing that,
- I have been using the Texas Transportation Code in lieu of City Ordinance 30-3 since I returned to patrol on Sunday, May 1, 2011.
- HPD Circular No. 11-0616-115 notifies the entire Houston Police Department that City Legal has already made a decision regarding City Ordinance 30-3 and that said ordinance “is undergoing revision.”
- It is also important to note at this juncture that, approximately two years ago, while City Legal was deciding the validity and applicability of City Ordinance 30-3, I was ordered to cease issuance of noisy vehicle citations while City Legal researched the subject. I was not removed from my patrol assignment during this five-six month period of time; therefore, the question remains, why have I now been involuntary removed from my patrol assignment pending a subsequent review of the law by the Legal Department? Especially considering the law/ordinance in question is no longer relevant to my enforcement efforts.
Personally, I am not interested in City Legal’s decision regarding Ordinance 30-3 seeing that I have finally received a valid and applicable “charging instrument” for the Texas Transportation Code. A valid charging instrument, relevant to Texas Transportation Code 547.604, will allow my noise citations to proceed to adjudication and said Code is under girded by binding legal precedent, Aaron C. Aguilar v. Texas (2008).
Additionally, I was involuntarily removed from my beat assignment, 20G86A, and transferred to 20G38A in order to appease the owner and motorcycle clientele of the “Dam Ice House,” 1710 State Highway 6 South. Why have I been removed from my beat assignment in order to pacify the owner and clientele of an establishment that actively conspire to violate the law and refuse to respect the right of all Houstonians to enjoy a peaceful environment and domestic tranquility? In addition to my request to be reassigned to patrol, I also respectfully request that my beat assignment, the beat assignment I polled for and received by means of seniority, 20G86A, be returned to me.
If Mayor Parker, Houston’s City Council, Houston’s City Legal Department, Houston’s Municipal Court and the Office of the Chief of Police, do not have the forthrightness and courage to support my efforts to protect the citizens of Houston from the unlawful intrusion of excessively loud motor vehicles, why not order me to cease and desist relevant to my noisy vehicle initiative? Why am I continually subjected to harassment and unfair treatment via involuntary reassignment? Is there any other officer serving in the Houston Police Department who has been, or currently is, subject to reassignment for having enforced the law and performed his duties to the best of his abilities? For the very short period of time I was assigned to the street, subsequent to my first five-month and one-week involuntary reassignment, I was in the “Top Performer” category at the Westside Station for “calls for service run” and “traffic citations written.” Again, why am I being punished for having performed my duties in accordance with all policies and procedures? Please, either support me or order me to stop my enforcement initiative relevant to excessively loud motor vehicles that continue to operate freely on the roadways of Houston Texas; motor vehicles that violate the right of all Houstonians to enjoy a peaceful environment and domestic tranquility.
R. D. Holtsclaw, Senior Police Officer