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Lubbock PD Chief finalist no stranger to controversy, growing pains

Lubbock will soon have a new chief of police. City officials announced Tuesday that Seth Herman, police chief of the Midland Police Department, had emerged as the top choice from a list of four candidates.

Herman has served as chief in Midland since 2018 when he replaced former chief Steve Henry, who was terminated after an investigation into claims that Henry violated personnel policies found at least 36 incidents related to sexual harassment over a two-month-plus period.

As Herman stepped in as interim Midland PD chief, he told the Midland Star-Telegram he expected to face what “every city police department faces during a time of growth and economic prosperity,” including increases in crime, traffic issues, and greater difficulties in recruiting and maintaining personnel.

After serving in patrol, K9, Gang Unit, SWAT and Narcotics, Herman brings nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience in Midland to the job.

Herman comes to the city at a time when Lubbock has looked at similar growing pains, but recent numbers suggest steps to improve public safety have been effective. Reports from the Lubbock Police Department and interim chief Gregory Rushin revealed a 20% drop in violent crime rate and a 24% decrease in property crimes in 2023, coupled with new recruitment programs trying to bring experienced officers to the city.

While Lubbock’s homicide rate fell by a significant amount to only 16 in 2023, the reported number of stolen guns increased to 698, and 286 were stolen from vehicles. As of April 30, LPD reported 10 homicides in Lubbock in 2024. On May 8, LPD reported a body found near I-27 and North Loop 289 early Wednesday morning that, originally thought to be serious injuries from a hit-and-run, was later found to be a man who died as a result of gunshot wounds.

In response to increased homicides in Midland in 2022, Herman told the press improving things would require utilizing “relationships with local, county, state, and federal partners to attack the illicit gun and drug trades” that he attributed to “an unsecured border and ever-increasing appetite for sedation” among the populace.

Herman faced other challenges in Midland, including being added to a lawsuit against the City of Midland at the end of 2023 after Midland Christian School administrators were accused and arrested, but ultimately not indicted, for allegedly trying to conceal claims of a student’s sexual assault from police.

Members of the lawsuit spoke to NewsWest 9 in Midland in February of this year, saying Herman and others “knew the charges were false but allowed police to re-arrest administrators.”

The lawsuit claims these actions “forever changed the lives” of these administrators, bringing additional failure to report charges that constituted an “improper, unconstitutional, and abusive use of the criminal justice system.”

Before lawsuits were filed, Herman told the Midland Star-Telegram in 2022 that he thought other cases were “spurred on by stories that came out,” as four Trinity School of Midland administrators were accused and arrested for failure to report with intent to conceal neglect or abuse. After a lengthy jury trial in April 2023, the charges against the Trinity School administrators were ultimately dismissed.

In 2020, Herman was the subject of public backlash from his response to an arrest shown in body camera video, later released by officials, where MPD officers pointed their guns at 21-year-old Tye Anders and arrested him in front of his grandmother’s home.

Anders was charged with evading arrest after the officer said he failed to stop at a stop sign and made “improper use of his turn signal.” Anders’ family spoke to reporters in a virtual press conference, alleging he was assaulted while in handcuffs in the back of the police car.

Days after the incident, the City of Midland held a “community conversation,” during which Herman made controversial comments after being asked how he would’ve handled the arrest.

“Myself and some of the senior troops, we would have done something different,” Herman said. “It wouldn’t have looked as good. It would’ve been very fast. It probably would’ve ended up with a broken window and somebody pulled out of a car and arrested and transported immediately. It would not have looked as professional as the men and women who were there that day, and showed extreme patience.”

This sparked outcries from those in the room, many saying the biggest issue was that officers were drawing weapons on someone who continually showed that he was unarmed. Herman responded by saying officers “die every day from ambush situations.”

Citizens responded, “so do Black people.” Dominique Alexander of the Next Generation Action Network, a Grand Prairie-based civil rights group, called for Herman's firing.

Many in Lubbock remember the 2017 death of Texas Tech Police officer Floyd East, Jr. after he was shot by Hollis Daniels, who had concealed a gun stolen days before and was carrying it when he was arrested. Daniels pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting in Feb. 2023.

But Herman could take the leadership position at a department where some officers have brought their own controversies from instances of violence.

In Nov. 2023, former deputy chief Leath McClure pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of deadly conduct. McClure resigned a month earlier after an arrest on two felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of continuous violence against the family.

After admitting to placing a woman he was dating in “imminent danger of serious bodily injury” by pointing a firearm at her, court records say she was “physically assaulted, threatened, controlled and berated by” McClure, but he was placed on deferred adjudication for 18 months and surrendered his Texas peace officer's license to dismiss the felony charges in February.

In July 2023, an officer was placed on leave after video depicted him dragging a woman through the park by her hair before she was taken to the Lubbock County Detention Center. Neither the officer, who was not named, or the woman he arrested were injured, according to LPD.

In June 2020, body camera footage was released by LPD after viral cell phone video showed officers beating a homeless man during an arrest on the corner of 50th Street and West Loop 289. In a release with the body camera video, LPD said the department’s investigation “found that the officers involved followed policies and procedures.”

LPD’s change in leadership comes in the midst of other changes within the department, including a new headquarters building, moving from a previous structure that LPD had operated in since the 1960s. The department also implemented substations in Lubbock neighborhoods with a drive to get more officers in the street to further “community policing.”

In the press release from the City of Lubbock, Herman said he's looking forward to the chance to “build on the department's positive momentum."

Herman’s appointment will be presented to the Lubbock City Council for confirmation at the meeting on May 14. Herman is expected to join the Lubbock Police Department in June.

Brad Burt is a reporter for KTTZ, born and raised in Lubbock. He has made a point to focus on in-depth local coverage, including civic and accountability reporting. Brad's professional interest in local journalism started on set as a member of the technical production team at KCBD Newschannel 11 before becoming a digital and investigative producer.