When the participants of Kingwood’s Positive Interaction Program (PIP) signed into their Zoom teleconference meeting March 10, most were expecting to see and hear a representative from the Houston Police Department’s burglaries and theft division. Instead, they met Kingwood’s new commanding officer, Cmdr. L.J. Baimbridge. The change in command had just been made the day before, coincidentally at about the same time as the heavily publicized announcements about Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo moving on to the Miami Police Department.
“As you all may know, our Cmdr. Howard has left Kingwood. She and Cmdr. Baimbridge have switched spots. So, Cmdr. Baimbridge is going to be our guest speaker tonight to tell you a little bit about himself,” Officer Ayaht Nichols said.
“It’s a new chapter for me, a new adventure and I am excited to be here and to join you. This is my second day in Kingwood. Just to tell you a little bit about myself, I joined HPD in 1992 so I have about 29 years on the force. I’ve spent time pretty much all over the department. I worked patrol, of course, and I love patrol. I worked out of the north’s area. My area was near Northwest Mall,” Baimbridge said.
“I was promoted to sergeant and went to be a homicide detective.” That included working in the jail operation which every sergeant does and then he spent time in internal affairs.
Baimbridge returned to the homicide division working murder cases. He was promoted to lieutenant and returned to the North Division.
“From there I went back to homicide and went into internal affairs again, which was not fun. But I did something unique called proactive internal affairs,” Baimbridge said. Proactive is when the department gets information that a police officer may be committing crimes and they look for a way to set up a situation to confirm it. He used an example of someone thought to be stopping traffic and stealing money.
“We would follow him. We would do a little surveillance to see if there is any validity to it and if it looked like he was, we would set up a scenario with the same type of victim and the same type of setting to see if he would take the money. We made a number of arrests,” Baimbridge said. Unfortunately, one of those arrests was one of his classmates from the police academy in a crime involving drugs and he ended up getting 16 years in federal prison.
“I tell this story as an example of how the HPD does an effective job of policing itself. We do thorough reactive and proactive investigations. While no one department or entity is perfect, we strive every day to make sure if we have a crooked cop, we get him off the street as quickly as possible,” Baimbridge said.
“I spent the past four years as the tactical operations commander. Cmdr. Howard is now taking on that role,” he said.
While in tactical operations, Baimbridge gained experience with the HPD dive team and the lake patrol which is now under the command of Kingwood Division. During Hurricane Harvey, he deployed and worked in Kingwood.
“I remember spending, I believe it was Tuesday, in Kingwood doing rescues. There are some moments I will never forget. I say great work by the Kingwood officers, the lake patrol and the rescues that took place,” Bainbridge said.
He concluded with remarks talking about the future.
“I’ve got some ideas on some different little things I’d like to see get implemented. One thing that strikes me is how big Kingwood Division is looking at a map,” Baimbridge said. He noted that to really serve an area this big, all the way to Summerwood, the division could use a helicopter.
“It covers a really large area with a relatively small number of officers. I know that’s always an issue, but I am going to look closely at that,” he said.
The Kingwood PIP meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m., normally at the Kingwood Church of Christ. The meetings will be held as Zoom teleconferences until HPD COVID-19 directives allow otherwise. It is open to the public and all residents are welcome. Contact the Kingwood HPD to obtain instructions for joining the meeting.