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Photograph by Richard Pipes DPS ARMORED CAR–The Texas Dept. of Public Safety bought six of these armored cars several years ago, before the national epidemic of riots broke out. This one parked behind the DPS headquarters in Houston, is similar to one that aroused concern in Austin when the vehicle was discovered by the staff of an underground newspaper. ing at law officers. A similar vehicle was used to get close enough to the house to flush the man out with tear gas. Gosset said the tanks rarely have been used. The DPS tried .to get a tank over to the UT-Austin campus on August 1, 1966, during Charles Whitman’s tragic shOoting spree, but the vehicle’s transmission failed. More recently an armored car was driven to the Houston ship channel May 23 where law officers were battling what they thought to be a sniper. It turned out that an electrical short was causing the popping sounds. Carter said the tanks are not armed and they have rubber wheels which make them vulnerable under sniper fire. DPS officials were anxious to emphasize that the tanks are used “defensively” rather than “offensively.” In one of his few public pronouncements on riot control, Wilson E. Spier, new DPS director, told an audience in Lubbock recently, “We are dedicated not to stand idly by while people smash windows and carry out merchandise.” He said the department can mobilize 400 to 500 men and put them in any city in the state within four hours, or 800 to 900 within 12 hours. Houston Police preparation for riots varies from city to city. Even some of the smallest towns in Texas consider racial disturbance possible. The quiet hamlet of El Lago, a home of NASA employees, has bought six cannisters of MACE. Houston Police Chief Herman Short believes his city. : is prepared for any eventuality. “Our officers are trained and disciplined. cope with all types of violations of the law,” he. said. “It doesn’t matter what ;color the law violator is. Everyone will be treated the same if he is breaking the law.” Short said his department has acquired few special weapons for riot control. “Naturally, people and reporters who come, here from other cities would like me to say we’ve got heavy artillery, tanks, and other. weapons and that our officers are just sitting here waiting for something to happen … so we can pounce on it. That’s silly. We don’t have those weapons, though I must add we are more prepared to cope with :a situation now that our social situation is like it is, more prepared than we would have been if all the riots had not happened, but we’re not going to start anything as we were accused by many reporters-and other people of doing at the [Texas Sbulhern University] riot.” Short said Houston has no special polity for treatment of rioters, neither a “let them loot” nor a “shoot to kill” policy. “We do not intend to let rioters and looters run loose in Houston,” he explained. “We will use whatever power and force is necessary tosee that the law is upheld and property is protected. Aie we suppOsed to give up the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens just because 8 The Texas Observer a few people want to riot? The merchants downtown have the right to police protection to know that their stores won’t be destroyed or burned. We will also protect the law-abiding Negro who wants protection’ from rioters.” Another police official added, “We don’t want guidelines to specify what we are to do. We must react to the situa’tion when we find ourselves in it. Each situation is different. But we can’t ask our officers not to shoot. This would be like asking them to negate their oath of office if they can’t use the means at their disposal to protect lives and property.” “We would use firearms to protect our own lives or the lives of others,” a captain said. “These are our only guidelines.” The Houston police’s relationship with the black community seems to have improved during the past year. The police’s reputation among blacks probably reached an all-time low last May during the disturbance at Texas Southern University, when one police officer was killed and many students injured \(Obs., June that time for being too harsh with student protesters. Some students and members of the press accused police of destroying student property in dormitories for no apparent reason. Since the tense confrontation at Texas Southern, the police have made a concerted effort to improve their image in the black community. Last August Houston police established a community relations department, “dedicated, as Capt. Harry Caldwell explains, to building a good image of Houston police. Caldwell, however, spends a major portion of his time addressing civic groups and arranging for guests of the police department to see the sights of Houston, rather than attempting to improve relations between police and minority groups. The department has four officers: Sgt. Ken R. Garnett, who appears on kiddie television shows and at schools to lecture on safety; Susan K. Loucks, who lectures at schools and to women’s groups; Haney P. Wilkerson, who makes public safety tapes for radio; and Sam Roy, Jr., the only Negro in the department, who handles minority group contacts. Caldwell and Chief Short emphasize that the community relations department is concerned with the whole community, rather than just minority groups. They hope, however, that if police have a better image they will be better able to ease racial tension. Short said the department does not attempt to deal with militants such as workers of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee “unless the militants actually want to participate in meaningful dialogue.” Mayor Louie Welch and his aides have developed a number of programs they hope will foster better race relations. One of the most well-publicized is Community Effort, Inc., which sponsors group therapy sessions with Houston police and Negroes. By late fall all 1,400 of Houston’s police are expected to have attended six consecutive therapy sessions. The sessions, run by a Negro clinical psychologist, Dr. Melvin Sikes, are often v o l a t i l e. Police officers have marched out on sessions after being called such epithets as “you blue honky,” and blacks have left after being maligned by police. But often both contingents finish the six weeks course with some understanding of the other’s point of view. The mayor’s office also has sponsored a job fair to help find summer jobs for