GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion is an American politician, criminologist and businessman; in 1997 he was the first African-American to be elected mayor of Houston, Texas.

GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion is an American politician, criminologist and businessman; in 1997 he was the first African-American to be elected mayor of Houston, Texas. He was reelected twice to serve the maximum of three terms from 1998 to 2004.He has had a long career in law enforcement and academia; leading police departments in Atlanta, Houston and New York over the course of nearly four decades. With practical experience and a doctorate from University of California, Berkeley, he has combined research and operations in his career. After serving as Public Safety Commissioner of Atlanta, Georgia, he was appointed in 1982 as the first African-American police chief in Houston, Texas, where he implemented techniques in community policing to reduce crime.Today in our History – May 23, 1982 – Lee Patrick Brown (born October 4, 1937) was named the first black police commissioner of Houston, Texas.His parents, Andrew and Zelma Brown, were sharecroppers in Oklahoma, and Lee Brown was born in Wewoka. His family, including five brothers and one sister, moved to California in the second wave of the Great Migration and his parents continued as farmers.A high school athlete, Brown earned a football scholarship to Fresno State University, where he earned a B.S. in criminology in 1960. That year he started as a police officer in San Jose, California, where he served for eight years. Brown was elected as the president of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association (union) and served from 1965–1966.Brown went on to earn a master’s degree in sociology from San José State University in 1964, and became an assistant professor there in 1968. He also earned a second master’s degree in criminology from University of California, Berkeley in 1968. In the same year, he moved to Portland, Oregon, where he established and served as chairman of the Department of Administration of Justice at Portland State University.In 1972, Brown was appointed associate director of the Institute of Urban Affairs and Research and professor of Public Administration and director of Criminal Justice programs at Howard University. In 1974, Brown was named Sheriff of Multnomah County, Oregon and in 1976 became director of the Department of Justice Services.In 1978 he was appointed Public Safety Commissioner of Atlanta, Georgia, serving to 1982. Brown and his staff oversaw investigation of the Atlanta Child Murders case and increased efforts to provide safety in black areas of the city during the period when murders were committed. A critical element of reform during Brown’s tenure was increasing diversity of the police force. By the time Brown resigned to accept the top police job in Houston, Atlanta’s police force was 20 percent black. In 1982 Brown was the first African American to be appointed as Police Chief to the City of Houston, serving until 1990. He was first appointed by Mayor Kathy Whitmire. The Houston Police Department seemed to be in constant turmoil and badly needed reform. According to one of Brown’s colleagues at Atlanta, … “Everybody knows Lee likes challenges and anyone who knows about the Houston Police Department knows it’s one helluva challenge.” After coming to Houston, Brown quickly began to implement methods of community policing, building relationships with the city’s diverse communities. The Houston Police Officers Union (HPOU) recently published a history describing in more detail how Brown’s reforms were implemented and how it became accepted by the officers as well as the communities they served over a period of years. Initially, the officers were unimpressed by what Brown termed Neighborhood-Oriented Policing (NOP). Old-time officers saw it as simply reverting to a long-discredited policy of “walking a beat,” and claimed the acronym meant “never on patrol.” Brown and his staff divided the city into 23 identifiable “neighborhoods.” Each neighborhood had a small informal office, located in a storefront, where people from the neighborhood were invited to come in and discuss their concerns or problems with one of the officers that served there. Brown emphasized through his officer training sessions that getting feedback from the public was as important as writing up tickets or doing paperwork chores. The neighborhood officers soon recognized the hot spots and the neighborhood “movers and shakers” who could be helpful in preventing problems. Brown was credited with getting more police officers into the neighborhoods during his tenure. Relations between the residents and the police were far better than ever before, with residents becoming willing to work with the police implementing various activities. He was quoted as saying that sixty percent of all cities in the U.S. had adopted some form of NOP by the time he stepped down as Houston’s chief. In December 1989 Brown was named by Mayor David Dinkins as Police Commissioner of New York City, the first non-New Yorker appointed in a quarter of a century as head of the nation’s largest police force. In January 1990, he took over a police force that was seven times the size of Houston’s, with “a complex organization of more than 26,000 officers” and a 346-member executive corps of officers at the rank of captain and above. At the time, the force was 75% white; there were issues of perception of police justice and sensitivity in a city with a population estimated to be half minorities: black, Hispanic and Asian. Brown implemented community policing citywide, which reportedly quadrupled the number of police officers on foot patrol and had a goal of creating a partnership between the police and citizens. The fact that reported crimes were 6.7 percent lower for the first four months of 1992, compared to the previous year, indicated that Brown’s program was having a positive effect, according to the Treadwell article. On the other hand, according to Treadwell, the police department was being criticized for the alleged ineffectiveness of its internal affairs division in the wake of allegations drug dealing and bribery by some officers.Dinkins had appointed a five-member panel to investigate the corruption allegations, and had asked the City Council to establish an all-civilian review board to look at charges of police brutality. Brown was already on record as opposing both actions. Both Brown and Dinkins took great pains to assure reporters that the policy disagreement played no role in Brown’s decision to leave. Brown submitted his resignation from the New York City position effective September 1, 1992. He and Mayor Dinkins held a joint news conference to explain the reason for his sudden departure. Brown stated that he was leaving to care for his wife, who was ill, and to rejoin the rest of his family, who were still in Houston. He added that he had accepted a college teaching position in Houston. In 1993 Brown was appointed by President Bill Clinton as his Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP, or “Drug Czar”), and moved to Washington, DC. The Senate unanimously confirmed his appointment.In the late 1990s, Brown returned to Houston and entered politics directly, running for mayor.In 1997, Brown became the first African American elected as mayor of Houston. During Brown’s administration, the city invested extensively in infrastructure: it started the first 7.5 mile leg of its light-rail system and obtained voter approval for an extension, along with increases in bus service, park and ride facilities, and HOV lanes.It opened three new professional sports facilities, attracting visitors to the city. It revitalized the downtown area: constructing the City’s first convention center hotel, doubling the size of the convention center; and constructing the Hobby Center of the Performing Arts.In addition, it built and renovated new libraries, police and fire stations. Brown initiated a $2.9 billion development program at the city’s airport, which consisted of new terminals and runways; and a consolidated rental car facility; in addition to renovating other terminals and runways, he built a new water treatment plant. Brown also advanced the city’s affirmative action program; installed programs in city libraries to provide access to the Internet; built the state-of-the-art Houston Emergency Communications Center; implemented e-government, and opened new parks. Brown led trade missions for the business community to other countries and promoted international trade. He increased the number of foreign consulates. Brown undertook a massive program to reconstruct the downtown street system and replace the aging underground utility system. The accompanying traffic problems was made a campaign issue by his opponent, three-term city councilman Orlando Sanchez in the 2001 election campaign. In 2001 Brown narrowly survived the reelection challenge and runoff against Sanchez, a Cuban-born man who grew up in Houston. The election characterized by especially high voter turnout in both black and Hispanic districts.Sanchez’ supporters highlighted poor street conditions, campaigning that the “P stands for Pothole,” referring to Brown’s middle initial. Sanchez drove a Hummer as his campaign vehicle during this period, which was adorned with the banner, “With Brown in Town it’s the only way to get around.” Following the death of Houston Fire Captain Jay Janhke in the line of duty, Sanchez gained endorsements from the fire/emergency medical services sector. Brown changed Fire Department policy on staffing as a result of the captain’s death. The Brown-Sanchez election attracted involvement from several national political figures, who contributed to its rhetoric. Brown was endorsed by former Democratic president Bill Clinton while Sanchez was endorsed by then-President George W. Bush, former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush; Rudy Giuliani and a host of other Republicans.Some members of the President’s cabinet campaigned for Sanchez in Houston.The contest had ethnic undertones as Sanchez, a Cuban American, was vying to become the first Hispanic mayor of Houston; he challenged Brown, who was the city’s first African-American mayor. According to the U.S. Census 2000, the racial makeup of the city was 49.3% White (including Hispanic or Latino), 25.3% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 5.3% Asian, 0.18% Pacific Islander, 16.5% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. 37% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race. Voting split along racial and political party lines, with a majority of African Americans and Asians (largely Democrats) supporting Brown, and a majority of Hispanic and Anglo voters (largely Republicans) supporting Sanchez. Brown had 43% in the first round of voting, and Sanchez 40%, which resulted in their competing in a run-off. Chris Bell received 16% of the ballots cast in the first round.Brown narrowly won reelection by a margin of three percentage points following heavy voter turnout in predominantly Black precincts, compared to relatively light turnout in Hispanic precincts, although Hispanic voting in the runoff election was much higher than previously.Brown’s 2001 reelection was one of the last major political campaigns supported by the Houston-based Enron Corporation, which collapsed in a financial scandal days after the election. Research more about this great American and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!