Public Safety Director Loves Keeping People Safe

Out and about: Hubenak (center), with HPD officers Jeff Miller, Tyler Wilson, Jon Jorsch, Zhen Wang and Ron Broadnax who serve on Westchase District Patrol, organized a National Night Out community event that drew more than 500 residents near Sneed Elementary.

The second time around for Mark Hubenak has been just as fun as his first tenure. In July, Hubenak rejoined Westchase District to resume his role as public safety director, a position he previously held between 2007 and 2017. During that period, Hubenak helped lead the District to numerous awards and recognition for its public safety programs. Hubenak is one of only three people to hold this position in the District’s history.

At the Houstonian for a World Leader Houstonian

Hubenak began his career working in hotel engineering and maintenance operations at The Houstonian. As someone who knew every corner of the property, he became one of the most trusted hotel staff members for President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush in the 1980s as Bush was gearing up for his first presidential campaign. Hubenak was with the Bushes in the elevators and stairways of The Houstonian as Secret Service agents escorted the couple to their residential suite.

His responsibilities and experience in the hospitality industry expanded, leading him into security and safety. Prior to coming to the District in 2007, Hubenak spent seven years as director of loss prevention at the Houston Marriott Westchase.  Hubenak holds many certifications. He is a certified OSHA safety trainer and has received Homeland Security training and Harris County’s Citizen Emergency Response Training. He also served as chairman of the Hotel Motel Association of Greater Houston’s Security Association.

Hubenak felt called to public safety work. “I like helping people avoid becoming a victim,” said Hubenak, an advocate of preventive measures. “Being in an area the size of Westchase District means there’s a lot of people you can help throughout the 500 different properties here. One of the first things I advise is target hardening so we can prevent crime from happening.”

Hubenak shares information about the District’s public safety work with area residents.

Taking on immediate priorities

Since returning to the District, one of Hubenak’s first priorities was addressing staffing challenges affecting the Houston Police Department and the officers available for the District’s patrol. Hubenak observed response times lagging because there were not enough HPD officers on shift to take calls.

“Unfortunately, like police departments across the nation, HPD has had officer shortages,” said Hubenak. “This had an immediate impact on our Westchase District Patrol so I brought in S.E.A.L private security to augment our patrols. The impact has been immediate and very positive.” Hubenak begins each morning by holding briefings with his public safety officers so that nothing goes unnoticed or lacks a response. They look at all incidents reported.

He quickly addressed illegal truck parking issues that were mounting on the District’s streets. It is illegal for 18-wheel tractor/trailers to park for more than two hours on any residential street in Houston. It is also illegal for the smaller “box” trucks to park for more than 24 hours on a city street.

“Illegal truck parking is a safety hazard,” said Hubenak. “It interferes with vehicular traffic and makes it difficult to see oncoming traffic in both directions when you are making turns.” The Houston Police Department officers working for Westchase District Patrol routinely drive these streets, make note of parked trucks (time and date), then return to issue parking citations. If an illegally-parked truck has not moved, it can be ticketed twice before it is towed.

Getting pumped up

When he’s not working, Hubenak enjoys hanging out with his kids – son Devin, 24, and daughter Haley, 21 – and watching movies. He enjoys outdoor camping and working out at the gym. Father and son lift heavy weights to stay in shape. “It’s always fun because I see how much stronger he is than me,” said Hubenak. “We also play one on one basketball. I took it easy on Devin when he was little but now he takes it easy on me,” laughed Hubenak. “To make up for his speed I use my outside shooting to try to stay competitive.”

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