Questions for Chief McClelland – News Media Request

CITY OF HOUSTON

INTER OFFICE CORRESPONDENCE

TO: Charles A. McClelland, Jr. FROM: R. D. Holtsclaw, Police Officer

Chief of Police Westside Division

VIA: M. Mikeska, Sergeant DATE: December 12, 2010

Westside Division

SUBJECT: Questions regarding noise

P. E. Ryza, Lieutenant enforcement, news media

Westside Division interview request

M. E. Lentschke, Captain

Westside Division

J. H. Chen, Assistant Chief

West Patrol Command

K. A. Munden, Executive Asst. Chief

Field Operations

I, Officer Rickey Holtsclaw, employee #68560, am currently assigned to the West Patrol Command, Westside Division, Shift I.

On November 16, 2010, at approximately 1030 hours, a large gang of Houston area motorcyclists rode their illegally loud, illegally equipped motorcycles into the Downtown District and parked their vehicles near Houston’s City Hall. I was working an overtime assignment during this time at 611 Walker, City of Houston Public Works and Engineering Building, and observed the obnoxiously loud motorcycles traverse the Downtown streets of Houston. Their excessively loud motorcycles were equipped with exhaust mechanisms emitting two to four times the noise emissions and particulate emissions permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency. Not a single HPD officer made an attempt to intercede on behalf of the Houstonians who were subjected to this intentional assault on their right to enjoy a peaceful environment as well as the audible assault upon their physical health and wellbeing.

Within the “Control Room,” located on the third-floor annex of 611 Walker, a camera monitor captures the activities within the City Council Chambers in real time. It is my understanding that the motorcycle riders, dressed in their motorcycle attire, entered the Council Chambers and voiced their concerns regarding my enforcement of City Ordinance 30-3, “Noisy Vehicles Generally.” Allegations of harassment were directed at me for actively pursuing a motor vehicle noise enforcement initiative that includes citing motorcycles equipped with illegal, obnoxiously loud exhaust mechanisms. It is also my understanding that you, Chief McClelland, along with Mayor Anise Parker and members of Houston’s City Council, were present as the concerns of these motorcyclists were presented by a designated speaker. It is important to note that though I have also issued numerous citations to automobiles and light trucks for violating City Ordinance 30-3, it was only the motorcyclists who challenged the ordinance designed to protect the citizens of Houston from the dangers of excessively loud motor vehicles.

On November 19, 2010, at 0600 hours, after attending roll call and line inspection at the Westside Command Station, Lieutenant Paul Ryza asked that I meet with him in his office. Lieutenant Ryza subsequently informed me that I was under investigation for harassment and would be assigned to administrative duties until the investigation was concluded. Being a motivated patrolman at heart, the thought of being removed from patrol duty was very disconcerting.

Since I began my noise enforcement initiative approximately one-and-a-half years ago, the motorcycle community has done nothing but whine, complain, accuse and threaten. Simply Google “HPD Holtsclaw noise tickets motorcycles” and note the numerous Web pages dedicated to condemning my vehicular noise initiative. Though obnoxiously loud automobiles and trucks are also cited for noise violations, it is the motorcycle community that has incessantly cried foul. As the motorcyclists continued to complain in large numbers, members within my immediate chain-of-command were summoned before various members of the Command Staff to explain my enforcement actions.

Seeing that my Captain and my Lieutenant were burdened with the task of explaining my noise enforcement initiative, I explained to Lieutenant Ryza that if he and Captain Lentschke did not want me enforcing the noise ordinance I would simply discontinue issuing citations for violations of said ordinance. Lieutenant Ryza told me that he would never tell one of his officers to stop enforcing a valid and applicable law. To assist my supervisors in their understanding of vehicular noise enforcement, I provided them with copies of a booklet I had compiled containing relevant law, legal precedent and evidence validating the need for a noise enforcement initiative. A copy of that booklet accompanies this letter.

Chief McClelland, I have ridden motorcycles, off and on, for some forty years. I’ve ridden professionally, spent most of the 80’s in the Solo Motorcycle Detail, have owned thirty motorcycles since age twelve and I have accumulated hundreds of thousands of miles on two wheels. I am very familiar with motorcycles, motorcyclists and the motorcycle industry. Following, are some questions that have been on my mind relevant to my vehicular noise enforcement initiative. Your response to these questions would be most appreciated.

  1. Chief, why has no one from your office, the Command Staff or the Mayor’s office taken the time to sit down with me and discuss my noise enforcement initiative?
  1. Why am I under investigation for “harassment” seeing that I am simply doing my job and doing what you and City Legal told me was permissible?
  1. Why was this illegally loud, obnoxiously loud, illegally equipped gang of motorcyclists allowed to traverse the streets of our City unhindered by law enforcement as they assaulted the citizens of Houston with their noise?
  1. Why are certain members of the HPD Solo Motorcycle Detail and HPD Officers who work extra-jobs on motorcycles continuing to operate illegally loud, illegally equipped Harley Davidson motorcycles? Did not Mayor Parker advise these officers and their supervisors to “pipe down” and reinstall their OEM exhaust mechanisms?
  1. Chief, unprincipled men and women in the motorcycle community are taking advantage of a well known weakness in our disciplinary system. It’s common knowledge that IAD will accept a complaint on practically any allegation of misconduct. Motorcyclists who are receiving citations from me cannot find any honest means of retribution due to my courtesy and professionalism during my interaction with them; therefore, they are perjuring themselves on sworn affidavits in order to gain traction with the IAD process. I have attempted to file perjury charges via the Harris County District Attorney’s Office but I was advised by ADA Foltermann and ADA George that someone from my Police Department must file these charges. Will you support me in my effort to prosecute these unprincipled men as they intentionally swear to these false accusations with retribution as their primary motive?
  1. Chief, what do you want me to do? I have informed you, the Mayor’s office and City Legal that Houston has a serious problem with excessive vehicular noise. We have a golden opportunity to set the example for other municipalities in Texas by leading the way in vehicular noise enforcement. I have diligently served the citizens within my area of responsibility but you have chosen to remove me from my assignment and put me behind a desk. Rather than punishing me, why not inform me of what it is I am accused of and let me know exactly what it is you want me to do?
  1. I have heard a lot of talk about the Houston Police Department’s desire to be completely “transparent.” I am assuming that by “transparent” we mean that everyone and anyone should be able to see clearly into the heart of the Police Department and see that our operation is completely professional and one that continually strives to serve the citizens of Houston with integrity. With that noble thought in mind, I request permission to speak with representatives of the Public Information Office and schedule a meeting with two or three of the local television stations to discuss my concerns relevant to vehicular noise enforcement.

R. D. Holtsclaw, Police Officer

Westside Division

rdh:rdh

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