The Modular Food Truck's Run-in with HPD Last Night at Liberty Station: UPDATED
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 HPD officer allegedly threatened a food truck over what the food truck owner says are non-existent "violations."
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.
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.
Photo courtesy of Facebook Martinez at work in 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.