Houston Police Department has promoted Samanda Rubin, a Houston native and attorney, as commander of its South Gessner Division, also known as Patrol District 17.
Capt. Rubin joined HPD in 2006 and rose to the rank of sergeant before being elevated to her new assignment. Rubin shared her thoughts about her new role after working as an attorney in the City of Houston Legal Department.
Q: Where did you grow up? What was your perspective on police officers as a young girl?
A: I was born and raised in the southeast area of Houston. As a young person, I always saw the police as both a resource for help in a time of need and an authority to ensure everyone followed the law.
Q: What prompted you to switch to a career in law enforcement after working as an attorney in the City of Houston Legal Department?
A: I was an ambitious young adult. I graduated from the University of Houston at the age of 21 with a dual degree in psychology and sociology. I then joined the Galveston County Sheriff’s Department for a brief time and then joined the Houston Police Department.
Several months into the HPD Academy, I turned 22. In January 2006, I graduated from the academy and began to patrol southeast Houston where I grew up. I was proud to patrol the area because it gave me an opportunity to not only make the community where I grew up safer, but it also allowed me to engage in (proactive) “community policing.”
In 2007, I began a two-year graduate program at the University of Houston – Clear Lake. I earned a master’s degree in criminology in May 2009. In 2010, I entered law school as a full-time student. I worked full-time as a police officer while simultaneously attending law school.
I graduated from law school in 2013. I subsequently passed the bar exam and became a licensed attorney for the State of Texas. I am currently eligible to be a licensed attorney in approximately 40 states. I love enforcing the law and applying my legal knowledge to help advance the officers I work with and the Houston Police Department as a whole.
Q: Describe your experience in law enforcement, leading and managing a team of officers.
A: I have been a supervisor with HPD for almost 10 years now. I have found that leadership is an art. It is true that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
A few leadership strengths I am proud to have developed over the years are knowing how to boost morale; bring fractured teams together to operate as one team; and grow officers into leaders.
Q: What is your overall perspective on policing?
A: Policing is necessary to allow people to safely live and raise families in the City of Houston. I believe HPD does a good job of working with the community to understand their needs and concerns and to have them serve as a force multiplier; working in partnership with surrounding law enforcement and governmental agencies to ensure we apprehend bad actors as well as enhance penalties during the prosecution phase; and actively seeking out non-governmental agencies to assist with issues that initially appear to have a criminal element, but are actually rooted in other quality of life issues like homelessness and mental health challenges.
Q: How important is it for HPD to have storefront command stations?
A: I believe storefronts have historically been a pillar for the community they serve. HPD recognizes that not everyone has transportation to travel to the designated police station for the area. Therefore, HPD implemented storefront locations. Here at South Gessner, we have a storefront located in the Gulfton area.
Not only is this location used for police access and police reports, but the Gulfton location has adjacent office spaces that offer additional resources for the community.
Q: How do you plan to foster positive relationships and partnerships between the South Gessner Division and the local community?
A: The great thing about South Gessner is that I inherited a station that already had a well-established working relationship with the community, elected officials, clergy, and other unofficial leaders in the community. I plan to continue to grow from this solid foundation by having increased access to and response from police services through our Differential Response Team members, enacting crime initiatives to target specific crimes at specific times in identified areas and adding more members to our specialized units that investigate, charge, locate and apprehend repeat offenders.
Q: What measures will you take to maintain transparency and accountability within the South Gessner Division?
A: When I was first assigned to South Gessner, I met with the officers and supervisors on each shift and detailed my expectation of following policy and the expectation of being professional in every interaction with citizens.
Q: What strategies will you employ to identify the training needs of your officers and ensure their ongoing professional development?
A: I am a very engaged leader. In addition to my own observations, I talk to all ranked and non-ranked employees to see what training needs they want as well as what ongoing training needs they deem necessary. I then follow up by ensuring we provide the training to the officers and supervisors that is needed.
Q: Law enforcement is an evolving field. How do you stay updated on the latest trends, technologies, and best practices within policing?
A: To stay up to date with technology and best practices, I plan to ensure officers at the South Gessner station establish and maintain great working relationships with investigative divisions outside of patrol as well, and ensure they are enrolled in ongoing and continuous training.
Q: What are some of the unique challenges of the South Gessner/Southwest Houston community?
A: “Even though we are a small district geographically, we are a densely populated district. Our population size far exceeds what would be expected for the size of the district. This is a unique challenge because we will always be faced with the issue of trying to have an adequate response time to calls for service from the population we serve.
Q: What other thoughts would you like to share for this article?
A: I would like to add two things: Although I am newly assigned to South Gessner, I am not new to District 17. This is the second time in my career that I have been assigned to South Gessner. I was previously assigned to South Gessner back in 2014 as a sergeant. This means that I already have strong working relationships with the officers and supervisors at the station and this will aid me in achieving important goals.
Also, I am told that I am the first female commander to ever be assigned to the Fondren/South Gessner Station. This is a great milestone for HPD and the South Gessner Station and I am proud to serve as the first female commander over District 17.