September 2

Breck Porter, Texas Ranger, Police Lieutenant and more

Breck Porter (R) w/ fellow Ranger

He was a Texas Ranger before he was old enough to vote. Assigned to quell a riot in Galveston during which a man was killed, Breck Porter was charged with murder, found not guilty by a jury, and fired. During the trial it was revealed that he was too young to be a Texas Ranger. The activity described in these few sentences is more than most officers might experience in a career. And he wasn’t yet twenty-one years old.

So what does an ex-Texas Ranger do after being put on trial for murder and fired? Breck Porter found another law enforcement job. River Oaks, now an exclusive neighborhood in Houston, was then an unincorporated town, with its own unpaid police department. He went to work there, driving his personal car on patrol.

Not long after starting the new job, the ex-Ranger met Houston Mayor Oscar Holcombe, who hired him on the spot. He was the first Houston officer to work for two police departments on the same day. Upon reporting to work, he still wore his River Oaks uniform because he didn’t have time to get his Houston gear.
Breck Porter (R) Homicide Investigation

In 1937, however, Houston elected a new mayor. As was the custom, several officers were fired to make room for his cronies. Breck Porter was one of those fired. It may have been the seminal moment in beginning a legendary career for the young crime fighter.

Quickly rehired at River Oaks, Porter wasted little time rejoining the ranks in Houston. This time, he would play a major role in stopping the practice of firing officers on the whim of the next political hack to be elected.

As one of the founders of the Houston Police Officers Association, he fought for passage of civil service protection, which was achieved in the late 40’s. In honor of his efforts,  in 1995 the Association dedicated its new building, located at 1602 State Street in Houston, and named it the Breckenridge Porter Building.

Breck Porter enjoyed a fulfilling career as a well-respected homicide lieutenant in the Houston Police Department. I contacted his son, Breck, Jr. with a few questions about his Dad. I then realized what was missing from this story.

Breck, Jr. told me that his father first took him to work in 1945, at the old Houston police headquarters on Franklin Street. By the time he was 12, he was riding with patrol officers. When his dad went to Austin to lobby for civil service, he often took Junior, where he was introduced to governors, senators, and other Texas political leaders who remained friends for life.

Breck Jr. ended with this, “Thank you for remembering my Dad, my mentor, my friend”

What father wouldn’t be more touched by those words than any written about career accomplishments?

Breck Porter died in 1999. Breck, Jr. is the editor of The Police News. Follow this link to view his publication.

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Posted September 2, 2013 by Larry Watts in category "Other