Cruise Control: HPD Lieutenant Paul George often can be seen cruising by the District’s trail system on patrol.
Over time, Westchase District has earned a reputation as a low crime area, thanks to the consistent efforts of the Westchase District Patrol. That success is tied directly to the high caliber of talented and ambitious patrol officers the District attracts. More than one quarter of the District’s patrol officers hold the rank of Police Sergeant and nearly half of those officers made rank during their time working for Westchase District. Leading this wave of excellence is Lieutenant Paul George, a 22-year Houston Police Department veteran who has spent half his career also working off-duty for Westchase District.
From Army medic to accident investigator
Reared in northeast Houston, George graduated from the former M.B. Smiley High School, now the main campus for North Forest High School. He then enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a medic for four years while stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in history and government from Columbia College of Missouri and briefly considered a career as a schoolteacher. “Ultimately I wanted something with more flexibility,” he said. “I didn’t want to be restricted to a mundane office or classroom all the time. I wanted to be able to drive around and meet different people. So, I ended up looking into law enforcement and decided to become a police officer.”
After graduating from the Houston Police Academy in 1997, George was assigned to evening patrol out of HPD’s Northeast Division. After a stint downtown on bike patrol, he worked accident investigations for four years then returned to Northeast station for eight years as a patrol sergeant. Along the way, George earned his Master’s degree in sociology and criminal justice from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. In 2009, George learned about the Westchase District Patrol through a flyer given to him by colleague Mike Burdick. “I had recently moved out to the Katy area, so the job was more on my side of town. I applied and have been here ever since.” George currently patrols the District three shifts per week.
Supervision and safety
In 2013, George was promoted to lieutenant, becoming the first Westchase District Patrol officer to earn the rank. When not working for the District, he serves as a day shift supervisor in HPD’s vehicular crimes division. “We investigate catastrophic crashes, specifically fatal crashes, accidents where people either fail to stop and render aid or give information, and crashes involving government fleet vehicles,” George said. “It’s interesting work because we’re working backwards from the aftermath, reconstructing how a crash occurred and what made it happen. I like that it’s specialized work, but I’m still not confined to an office.”
George said that while most collisions involving intoxicated drivers occur at nighttime, he’s noticed an increase in daytime crashes caused by motorists distracted with using their cell phones while driving. “We see a lot of that in Houston, along with people running red lights and pedestrians not crossing at intersections,” he said. “So much of it could be prevented if people just paid attention and worked at being more patient on getting where they’re going safely.”
During the lieutenant’s lengthy tenure with the District, he’s experienced everything from car chases to simply helping people cross the street. “What I like about working in Westchase District is that I feel supported by the owners and businesses who like our presence out here,” he said. “The community seems to genuinely appreciate us patrolling and taking care of issues for them and that means a lot when people thank me. Also, the District has provided us with up-to-date vehicles and equipment to charge radios and cell phones, which really helps.”
After putting thousands of miles on District patrol vehicles for more than a decade, George hasn’t grown tired of staying on the move. An avid world traveler, George recently completed a trek through Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway. “I plan to put in 10 more years with the force and then retire somewhere overseas,” he said. “Until then, I’m happy helping people in Westchase District.”