The Houston Association of Black Journalists invited HPD Chief Charles McClelland to speak at its May membership meeting and mixer, which was held at KTRK Channel 13 Monday night.
Chief McClelland, a thirty-six year HPD veteran, recently celebrated his first anniversary as the city's top cop. He was named to the position by Mayor Annise Parker.
Chief McClelland talked about several of the challenges and successes he's faced while leading the department.
He told the group of print and electronic journalists, along with public relations professionals, that crime is down across the city and his department is doing more to identify the mentally ill who need to be in treatment programs instead of jail.
The Chief didn't shy away from talking about controversial issues like the videotape that showed several Houston police officers beating teenage burglary suspect Chad Holley last year.
He described how he moved quickly to discipline the accused officers, but also felt like some media and police critics used the tape as an opportunity to "pile on" HPD.
The Chief feels there is too much focus on the negative actions of a few police officers and not enough stories being told about the good deeds done by Houston police.
"I don't expect any journalist to take my side," said Chief McClelland, "but I do expect journalists to be objective."
HABJ President and KPRC Reporter Mary Benton applauded Chief McClelland for accepting the group's invitation to speak on the record and his willingness to answer tough questions.
"Journalists and police officers often find themselves on opposite sides of a news story, but it's important that we understand and respect the job each of us is charged to do in this community, whether it is keeping people safe or keeping them informed," said Benton.
Other attending the meeting with the chief included, Sherea Cary, Denise Bates, Sharron Melton, photographers Bernard Frances and Anthony Reed, Kim Davis, Erica Hilliard, Phyllis Bailey, Shannon Dillon.