Houston police are investigating ranks for extremism

Chief Art Acevedo says so far there hasn't been more evidence since Officer Tam Pham was arrested this week for involvement in the Capitol siege

By Alison Medley
Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON — Following the deadly insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, an investigation into extremists within U.S. police agencies is underway.

More than 30 sworn officers from a dozen departments across the nation are believed to have taken part in the U.S. Capitol riot, according to NPR's Eric Westervelt. In the wake of that deadly Capitol takeover, Congress is now urging Major Cities Chiefs Association to identify and root out extremists from police agencies across the U.S.

Leading the charge to spot and track some of the extremists within policing is HPD Chief Art Acevedo.

"I think you're going to see a heightened level of alert to the threat that militia, white supremacists, hate groups pose to our country," HPD Chief Art Acevedo told KHOU's Marcelino Benito.

One of those officers who was involved in the storming of the U.S. Capitol was 18-year HPD veteran Tam Pham. Pham is now facing federal charges. Acevedo didn't mince words about the actions of a member of his police force.

"There is no excuse for criminal activity, especially from a police officer," Acevedo said during a press conference last week. "I can't tell you the anger I feel at the thought of a police officer and other police officers thinking they get to go storm the Capitol."

Although Acevedo stated that there hasn't been any evidence that other HPD officers were involved, the agency is stepping up awareness about detecting and rooting out extremism on social media.

"We look at tattoos, social media, we talk to neighbors, coworkers and we conduct very thorough investigations, but to think we have none among our ranks would be naive at best," Acevedo said.

Police Executive Research Forum's Chuck Wexler underscored how critical it was that the officers involved in the U.S. Capitol insurrection be held accountable.

"Police officers should know more than others that engaging in mob behavior is abhorrent. At a time when people are questioning police legitimacy, this isn't helpful," Wexler told NPR. "Those officers who engaged in mob behavior should be held accountable and should not be police officers. Period.

NEXT: Public employee speech and consequence of unlawful action

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