Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo resigning to lead the Miami department

Texas Police Chief heads to Florida
Originally Published: 15 MAR 21 09:38 ET
Updated: 15 MAR 21 10:57 ET

(CNN) — Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, who gained a national profile by criticizing President Donald Trump and marching with George Floyd protesters, has resigned to lead the Miami Police Department.

Acevedo confirmed to CNN in an email Monday morning that he will be leaving his present position after more than four years to become the City of Miami’s next police chief.

Born in Cuba, the 56-year-old Acevedo was the first Hispanic to lead the police department in Houston, the nation’s fourth most populous city. Acevedo will replace Miami Interim Chief of Police Ronald L. Papier.

Acevedo has become a fixture in national discussions of policing and public safety, and has frequently spoken out against national and state Republican lawmakers.

He joined marchers and knelt with crowds protesting George Floyd’s death. Standing outside the church during the funeral for Floyd, a Houston native, Acevedo called for national standards on the use of force by police.

“There’s still too many incidents where bad policing is tolerated so we just need to say ‘no’,” he said.

In an interview last year with CNN’s Christianne Amanpour, Acevedo responded to President Trump’s comments calling governors “weak” for not cracking down more severely on violent protests.

“Let me just say this to the President of the United States on behalf of the police chiefs in this country, please, if you don’t have something constructive to say, keep your mouth shut,” Acevedo said. “Because you’re putting men and women in their early 20s at risk. It’s not about dominating, it’s about winning hearts and minds.”

In 2019, Acevedo criticized Republican senators for not reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and taking action against gun violence, asking them in emotional remarks to choose between the nation’s foremost gun lobby and “the children that are getting gunned down in this country every single day.”

Acevedo is moving to a smaller department

Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States with a population of 2.3 million. Acevedo has led a department of 5,400 sworn law enforcement officers and 892 civilian support personnel.

He’ll be moving to a smaller department in Miami, which has about 1,300 sworn officers.

In Houston, he’s faced his share of problems.

By January of this year, 12 Houston officers had been indicted in connection with a botched 2019 drug raid that left two people dead.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Division determined that an officer lied to obtain a warrant for a “no-knock” raid and misrepresented the victims’ drug activity, threat level and other factors.

Acevedo tweeted that he was “disheartened” that the process to indict the officers took so long.

In a letter to the department that was provided to CNN, Acevedo said, “We have been through so much as an extended family; Hurricane Harvey, two World Series, a Super Bowl, Irma, the Summer of protests, and most recently, an ice storm of epic proportion.”

“I was not looking for this opportunity when it arose, but with the end Mayor (Sylvester) Turner’s final term in office fast approaching, and my strong desire to continue serving as a police officer, we decided the timing for this move was good,” Acevedo said in his letter to the Houston department.

He was chief in Austin for 9 years

Acevedo was 4 when he immigrated to the United States with his family in 1968, according to his biography on the Houston police department’s website. He grew up in California and earned a bachelor of science degree in public administration from the University of La Verne in California.

Acevedo began his law enforcement career with the California Highway Patrol in 1986 as a field patrol officer in Los Angeles and was named chief of the California Highway Patrol in 2005, according to his bio. He also served over nine years as the Chief of Police for Austin.

Houston and the rest of Texas has suffered through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, Acevedo called Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to lift a statewide mask mandate a “step in the wrong direction,” and added that he expects it will lead to an uptick in calls to his department.

In February 2021, Acevedo was interviewed by CNN’s Don Lemon about the severe mass electrical outage in Texas following inclement weather, and the chief blasted state leaders for their policies.

“When our state leaders decide to do things on their own, because they can do it better, then those state leaders better make sure that they are always prepared for a worst-case scenario,” he said.

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