A Day in the Life of SEAL Patrol | WESTCHASE DISTRICT

It has been almost two years since Westchase District added SEAL Security to its public safety program and the results speak for themselves. Overall, violent crimes in Westchase District dropped 33.3% while non-violent crimes fell 19.1%.  These drops outpace the reduction in crime that has occurred throughout Houston during this same time. Between October 2021 and March 2022, HPD statistics show violent crime down 12.8% citywide, while non-violent crime is down 2.1%.

“We added SEAL officers out of necessity,” said Westchase District’s Vice President of Public Safety Mark Hubenak. “Because of a shortage of HPD officers and the abundance of required overtime at HPD, we simply couldn’t hire enough HPD officers to staff our shifts. When I researched alternatives, I learned that other Houston management districts were already hiring SEAL officers to supplement their existing patrols. The dual-agency approach works well,” said Hubenak.

As crime ticked up during the pandemic, having SEAL officers already on patrol helped immensely. The Westchase District Board of Directors added to Hubenak’s public safety budget in 2022, making it possible to staff more officers for longer hours.

The result today is that three SEAL officers (plus their respective K9 officers) are on duty during the day, while two officers are patrolling overnight. That is in addition to the HPD officers who continue to patrol on behalf of Westchase District. “This approach has ensured that officers are always here and ready to respond. Typically, an officer can be on site within minutes of a call coming into the dispatch line,” added Hubenak.

Patrols and responding to calls

SEAL Officer Nathan Mulder and his K9 partner Cheetoh begin patrolling Westchase District at 7 a.m. each day. When not responding to calls from property owners and managers, they patrol known “hot spots” in the area.

“We have a list of about 50 hot spots that we patrol. While I’m patrolling east of Beltway 8, another SEAL officer is patrolling west of Beltway 8,” said Mulder. This morning’s route took Mulder through the Houston Marriott Westchase, Westchase Hilton, Kroger and Carillion Center. With a keen eye for spotting suspicious vehicles and vagrants, Mulder patrols the parking lots. He pays particular attention to the areas where he knows the employees park and leave their cars for long periods of time.

When a call comes in from an apartment community about a trespasser sleeping in the laundry room, Mulder and SEAL Officer Sumpter both respond and the trespasser is forced to leave the property. Mulder said this is a relatively slow morning, but they frequently have calls stacked up when they come on duty.

Later Mulder and Sumpter respond to a call from Whole Foods, in response to a shoplifter who filled a bag full of items and then left without paying. Upon confronting the shoplifter in the parking lot, he leaves the stolen items behind before he goes on his way. SEAL officers generally respond to calls in pairs. “But one of us will peel off if another call comes in,” said Mulder. They all communicate via cell phones equipped with the Voxer app, which also allows Hubenak to listen in.

Dispatchers at the SEAL Security offices answer all calls to the Westchase District dispatch line 24 hours a day and dispatch the call to whoever is on duty, either HPD or SEAL. “The SEAL officers are able to handle the vast majority of calls. But they can call an HPD officer if they need one,” said Hubenak. “This arrangement frees up HPD officers to take the calls that involve more serious crimes or known criminals.”

Shift change

At 4 p.m. Officer Jesus Quinones and his K9 partner Sarah come on duty for the night shift. Quinones typically spends the first few hours of his shift responding to calls. Then he makes the rounds through the various hotels, stopping in to talk to the night manager on duty. “This gives the overnight shift the sense of security that comes with knowing an armed officer is available if they need it,” said Quinones.

Quinones is a senior training officer for SEAL Security and has been on patrol in Westchase District since SEAL was originally retained by Westchase in late 2021. All SEAL officers are Level III officers, licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety. They’re armed, have their private security license, have passed a federal background check and have at least one year of experience. They have also completed SEAL Security’s extensive training program on de-escalation.

Westchase District property managers can reach SEAL’s dispatch number 24 hours a day at 713-701-7800.