Prop B delayed after judge extends restraining order

HOUSTON – A judge in Houston extended a restraining order that halts the implementation of Proposition B.

A new ruling will be made next week.

“This is a long process and right now we are waiting for the judge to rule. He is very attentive to the things that were discussed today and we are looking forward to the judge's ruling next week,” said Patrick Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Firefighters Association.

The proposition was passed by voters in November. It requires that money be allocated to link the salaries of the city’s firefighters with the salaries of the city’s police force.

A few weeks after the election, the Houston Police Officers’ Union filed a lawsuit, claiming that the measure is unconstitutional.

A judge overseeing the case issued an injunction Nov. 30 that prevented the city from using any taxpayer money to implement the pay parity amendment. That order expired Friday.

“It's a serious matter of consequence for all the parties involved. Firefighters believe they have a position. The city has a need to administer the correct law. That is our responsibility to the public. We need the court, whose job is to determine what the law is, to make sure that we do what is correct,” said Ronald Lewis, Houston City Attorney.

At Friday’s hearing about the order, Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo testified that if Prop B goes through, he would immediately have to shut down the police academy and begin laying off officers. He said anywhere from 500 to 800 personnel would have to be let go, and that number would depend on how much money he would have to cut from the department’s budget.

“It's a range of anywhere from 600 positions I'd have to eliminate, which would be a combination of cadets, probationary police officers and officers off probation all the way up to 800, so it will be pretty devastating,” Acevedo said.

Acevedo also said that cutting back on staff would severely impact response times. He said the response times to violent crimes would be reduced and that officers would be unable to respond to home burglary calls.

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