The Modular Food Truck's Run-in with HPD Last Night at Liberty Station: UPDATED

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An HPD officer allegedly threatened a food truck over what the food truck owner says are non-existent "violations."
UPDATE: The Public Information Office of the HPD called to say that, as of 2 p.m. "no complaint has been filed. No one by that name has filed an [Internal Affairs Division] complaint," the liaison stated.

An encounter with the Houston Police Department has left a local food truck owner unsure if he wants to continue operating his truck anymore, he said.

Around 8:30 last night, Joshua Martinez was in the middle of a routine dinner service, dishing up food from his bright silver truck, The Modular.

When red and blue lights lit up the parking lot at Liberty Station, Martinez poked his head out of the truck to see what was going on and was surprised to find out the reason for the commotion: The cruiser was there for him. An HPD officer walked up to the food truck and told Martinez that The Modular was in violation, he said.

Martinez was baffled. After all, he stated, "HPD has no jurisdiction over food trucks." The City of Houston's Health Department does, but that didn't deter the officer.

"He told me, 'You're supposed to move every 59 minutes. You're a mobile food truck,'" Martinez said, recalling the conversation 15 minutes after it happened last night. He spoke from the parking lot outside his food truck, which was parked on private property. "I showed him my licenses, explained that we are supposed to move every 24 hours and go back to our commissary."

"He didn't listen," Martinez said of the HPD officer. "He just kept saying, 'You're in violation. I can give you up to $6,000 in tickets.'" The staggering amount of the figure made Martinez freeze. "If I violated every health department violation there was, it wouldn't be $6,000!"

Martinez plans to file a formal complaint with the Houston Police Department. When reached today, HPD had no comment on the incident because a complaint had not yet been filed.

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Photo courtesy of Facebook
Martinez at work in The Modular.
The HPD officer asked to see Martinez's ID, and he admitted that he was reluctant to provide his ID to the officer: "At the age of 17, I was a rat bastard kid and I did stuff that I'm not proud of." After providing his driver's license, Martinez said, the officer became even more hostile, insinuating that a $6,000 fine would be enough to permanently close down The Modular.

"And then I asked him, 'Who are you? What is your name?'" The officer's badge and nameplate were both covered by a reflective vest, according to Martinez.

Martinez says the officer's response was succinct: "'It doesn't matter what my name is, you're the one in violation.'" Martinez finally wrote down the license plate number of the HPD cruiser.

"You food trucks are a nuisance to the city," the officer reportedly said, before leaving without dispensing any tickets. No active incidents were reported at that address any time yesterday evening, according to the HPD's Active Incidents Report.


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120 comments
ec
ec

Fabrication Station.  Sounds like this story was fabricated.

Corey
Corey

All police officers have inflated sense of self importance, they power/ego trip with the best of them... They are the law, or so they think..

John Seaborn Gray
John Seaborn Gray

I've been working at a food cart on Westheimer near Montrose for a few months now, and every police officer who has come by the stand has been nothing but nice, supportive, and happy with their food. Josh, it would be a shame to let one jerk with a stick up his ass bully you out of the business.

Jasonofthesea
Jasonofthesea

I guess we know where that cop's wife....eats

Gil Velasquez
Gil Velasquez

Well, given that Mr. Martinez has not filed the complaint, the sad part is, if he fails to, it will never get rectified.  Nor will any explanation be given.

Winelush
Winelush

The Occupy Houston people took a  bashing for the Police Brutality Protest a week or so ago.  This is the kind of crap they're protesting and they got raked for it.  I've never met a cop with any real honor.  Sorry, I haven't.  I hope I do one day. 

Biker
Biker

DUDE!  File a freaking complaint!!!!  This guy will keep up this crap unless someone calls him on it!

Mern721
Mern721

Sounds like HPD needs a seminar on Food Truck rules and regulations as well as a refresher course on courtesy!

Allison
Allison

Maybe said officer is in the food truck biz?

Montrosian
Montrosian

Hubcap Grill Burger Truck reported being harassed at this same location.  Clearly someone has an ax to grind against the food trucks here and/or Liberty Station. Has anyone asked Liberty Station what they know?

Winelush
Winelush

After a long time now reading his comments, Somehow I imagine Craigley wearing a hat with tea bags dangling from the brim, proudly holding his "God Hates Fags" sign at a soldier killed in Iraq's funeral.

Jen
Jen

Bad Cop... No Donut!

ec
ec

To state that HPD has "no jurisdiction" over food trucks is not correct.  If it is parked improperly, they'll give you a ticket.

Chris
Chris

While I do feel bad for the guy, it's all a bit melodramatic. I understand it's difficult as a small business owner to survive day-to-day, but I really can't feel too bad if one is seemingly willing to give up so easily.

Downtowngal
Downtowngal

Definitely file a complaint with HPD, because the officer should be reprimanded/written up for not giving you his name and for making the comment about food trucks being a nuisance to the city.  I guarantee you that Mayor Parker does not share his feelings, her office is working on policy changes that make operating a food truck in Houston easier.  She realizes that food trucks are small businesses that are just trying to succeed.  I would strongly suggest sending her office an email @ mayor@@houstontx.gov

Duce630
Duce630

I imagine this officer needs some retraining and that is likely all he will get besides maybe a written reprimand. 

Caitmarie24
Caitmarie24

File a complaint with the department! You are in the right and are knowledgeable of the law. Don't let him ruin your dream.

Ed T.
Ed T.

I'm just curious if any of the troll/sock-puppet comments on this post are originating from CoH/HPD IP addresses.  Allegedly.

BTW, Mr. Martinez, you can count yourself very lucky. There were days when a name like that would have earned you a swimming lesson. In Buffalo Bayou. In handcuffs. After being beaten unconscious. Because that's how HPD rolled.~EdT.

Craigley
Craigley

I'm more worried about his unkempt hair getting into my food than HPD doing their job.

They SHOULD call the health inspector.

1-800-759-7243
1-800-759-7243

ok, we all agree that cops can be jerks and have many more important things to do. but has anyone considered the fact that the only source in this story is the food-truck owner? were there any witnesses that can confirm the statements allegedly made by the cop?

should we take Martinez's word at face value strictly because hes a "hip" food-truck proprietor? and evidently someone with a criminal record by his own admission? could this be a publicity grab by Martinez? is there any hard proof here of what ACTUALLY happened?

Gil Velasquez
Gil Velasquez

Or, even better, has a relative who is.  Which would be a far juicier story.

Kyle
Kyle

That was a legitimate encounter, at least. A health inspector showed up, said he had a complaint of a food truck operating too close to a seating area, and cited them for a valid (though stupid) ordinance. It seems like this HPD officer was totally rogue.

Bill Shirley
Bill Shirley

It was stated in the article that it was parked on private property.  And if you are familiar with this location, you'd know that this couldn't happen without dozens of witnesses. Did they all collude to make this up?  Clearly you keep posting the same comment because you like trolling.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

To be clear, yes - HPD can write a ticket to a food truck if they're doing something unlawful, like being parked illegally or driving 100 mph down the freeway or chopping up real babies for baby-flavored cupcakes. But the HPD can't cite them for Health Department violations (at least...not yet).

Hugh Ramsey
Hugh Ramsey

Different people react to stressful situations differently.  Doesnt excuse the cops alleged ridiculous behavior

Downtowngal
Downtowngal

Oops! Correction: just 1 @ symbol!  mayor@houstontx.gov

Gil Velasquez
Gil Velasquez

Sadly, none of that will happen unless the complaint is filed.  If Martinez chooses  not to pursue this, no rectifying will occur.

Bill Shirley
Bill Shirley

Craigley: reducing it to an Ad Hominem argument is announcing yourself a comment-board Troll

Gil Velasquez
Gil Velasquez

I love the panicky health issues - mankind has survived the millennia without strict food issues such as hairnets and we are still here.  

Jake
Jake

No badge number no name... That is a violation. Period. No mater what we have a right know our accuser. But I would love to hear the no named no badge no number cop side

Gary R Wise
Gary R Wise

You would only have to talk to Joshua for a short while to change your mind. He is a mensch.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

If Martinez was breaking the law, why didn't he get that $6,000 ticket?

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Unfortunately, HPD was unable to provide its side of the story. I called them this morning to get a response, and received a "no comment."

Craigley
Craigley

These are the questions real reports ask.  But there are no reporters at the Houston Press. Instead of reporters, they employ creative writers, who's MO is to feed their creative frustration by telling "half the story".

But I still like reading it for some sick reason.  It's like a dang train wreck.

Gil Velasquez
Gil Velasquez

I do not know Martinez and could care less if he is a hip food truck dude - but let's all step back a minute and know we are talking about HPD - given their rather colourful track record, I would think the court of public opinion wouldn't hold for HPD even with their side of the story.

While this cop was doing that, I am sure someone's car was being broken into that could have been prevented by proactive patrolling instead of this nonsense.

Kyle
Kyle

He recorded the plate, so when he files his complaint, HPD will be free to respond, if they want to tell another side.

ec
ec

Maybe said story is made up?    Sounding awfully suspicious to me.

illegal1
illegal1

Mmm. . . baby-flavored cupcakes. Perfect for Holloween.

Chris
Chris

No one is excusing the cop. But the officer's actions don't have to dictate how someone reacts to something. And saying that different people react to situations differently is a response that pushes the discussion into a very gray area. For instance, what dictates a reasonable reaction?

fhlh
fhlh

SUBMIT TO NEWSFIX!!!

Craigley
Craigley

I just don't like hair in my mouth, do you?

1-800-759-7243
1-800-759-7243

he was presumably referring to past offenses - "At the age of 17, I was a rat bastard kid and I did stuff that I'm not proud of."

Gil Velasquez
Gil Velasquez

Sounds like standard old-school Public Information Officer response tactics.  I thought the new administration under Parker was supposed to move these chaps to feel more free to communicate and be more interactive with the public at large? *Le sigh.*

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

"Martinez plans to file a formal complaint with the Houston Police Department. When reached today, HPD had no comment on the incident because a complaint had not yet been filed."

Look, only one side of the story is available, and it's one worth telling. The attempt was made to get both sides, and I trust that it will be followed up on, as more details come to light.

Chris
Chris

 Yeah, okay buddy.

illegal1
illegal1

Well, if I kicked you in the 'nads right now, I believe a reasonable reaction would be you keeling over and writhing in pain, don't you think?

illegal1
illegal1

Clearly you do not have a girlfreind or you would not have asked such a question.

Gil Velasquez
Gil Velasquez

With a side of eyebrow hair only, with undercooked pork.

Craigley
Craigley

I bet you just love Fly Soup ;-0

Gil Velasquez
Gil Velasquez

No but who is to say it is unkempt or get in the food?  If you see it, pick it out like you would if it was at your BBQ in a back yard.  Boom. Done.  Don't eat in a foreign country would be sound advice for anyone with that many hang-ups on the food.

1-800-759-7243
1-800-759-7243

uh... ok, but I don't understand the logic of your question – "If Martinez was breaking the law, why didn't he get that $6,000 ticket?"

I never presumed he was breaking the law, because he probably wasn't. What I was questioning was what – if anything – actually happened. Since we only have one side of the story and no witnesses quoted.

So actually, him "not getting a ticket" supports MY point. Maybe there was no cop at all – and therefore no ticket issued.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

I am referring to the above comment questioning Martinez's side of the events. Not to Martinez's own statements.

Wyatt
Wyatt

Silly Mr. Hall, it's so much more fun to be a hater than to use logic or practice good reading comprehension.

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