HOUSTON – The Houston Police Officers' Union president sent a strong message to the "dirtbags" he said take aim at police officers following a shooting that left five Houston police officers injured on Monday.
Joe Gamaldi spoke at Monday night's news conference in the Houston Medical Center on the behalf of thousands of police officers by saying they are sick and tired of people spreading rhetoric that police officers are "the enemy."
"We are sick and tired of having targets on our backs. We are sick and tired of having dirtbags try to take our lives when all we are trying to do is protect this community and protect our families. Enough is enough," Gamaldi said.
Gamaldi said every time someone spread such rhetoric regarding police officers, they will be tracked and held accountable for their words.
"Well just know, we all got your number now. We are going to be keeping track of all of ya'll, and we're going to make sure we hold you accountable. Every time you stir the pot on our police officers. We've had enough, folks. We're out there doing our jobs every day, putting our lives on the line for our families. Enough is enough. Now please, keep these officers in your prayers," he said.
Gamaldi’s statements sparked some razor-sharp reactions on social media.
The Omaha Police Officers' Association tweeted “Great and meaningful words coming from a great man and leader. Another tweet read, “Your speech was spot on … dangerous rhetoric allowing people to think they are above the law for any reason.”
Others shared their interpretations of his public comments. One person tweeted “Hey Joe Gamaldi, welcome to being black in America.”
Another tweet read “Joe Gamaldi, are you going to come after me for saying not all cops are saints?”
Tuesday afternoon, Ashton P. Wood, with Black Lives Matter, went before the Houston City Council and said while he agrees that police officers shouldn’t walk around with targets on their back, he took issue with some of the other statements Gamaldi made and told council members this doesn’t give police the right to go after activists in the community who continue to stand up and speak their minds.
“There are a lot of people in the city of Houston who look like me, who look like brown people who have to navigate through the city and every time something like this happens we have to endure heightened policing, police being aggressive and rightfully so, given their feelings about their colleagues being shot and being hurt in the line of duty. What it does not mean is we have to stop calling out police brutality,” Woods said.
Gamaldi is standing his ground. In an interview Tuesday, he said statistics show shootings against officers are up and that it is getting more dangerous for them. He said just this year alone, nine officers have been shot before Monday's shooting.
"We see the statistics. Shooting against officers are up. We have more people shooting police officers over the last few years than we had in quite a long time so the statistics bared out. It's getting more and more dangerous for our officers on these streets," Gamaldi said. "We didn't have all the issues before."
He said he is tired of people painting police officers as "evil" when "all they do is love and protect the community."
Gamaldi also sent a message to the wounded HPD officer, saying they have a "huge blue family here to support them."
He also thanked the community for its outpouring support.
"If you see a police officer out there on the street, it's a rough time for us right now. Go up and thank them for their service. You'll make their day and probably make their week," Gamaldi said.
Anyone who would like to donate to the injured officers is asked to visit www.assisttheofficer.com.