The History of CLEAT
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The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas or CLEAT was born during the mid-1970’s by innovative police officers seeking to enhance the law enforcement profession.
CLEAT’s rich history begins with rank and file officers not being represented. The organization began by separating itself from a do-nothing, pro-management organization that refused to represent its members.
Many of the founders were returning veterans of the Vietnam War era and were unhappy with the way their statewide police association’s (TMPA) refusal to hire attorneys or represent members when they were disciplined, demoted or terminated. Like our nation’s founders, these officers met with the leaders of TMPA and attempted to change the organization from within.
After airing their grievances about how things were being handled and seeing no change, year after year these officers began asking one another why they couldn’t just form their own union that would actually represent street cops and get things done in a state that no longer fit the mold of the largely rural, good ole boy, pro-management state-wide association that had failed them badly.
After a dramatic walkout of the annual convention, the officers banded together, created a real union for working officers and never looked back. At every milestone the naysayers predicted CLEAT and its leaders would fail. But CLEAT leaders and members forged ahead, lending of themselves, their lives and futures in order to build an organization that worked for all officers.
CLEAT was the first union to conduct training in Texas. CLEAT was the first to hire on-staff attorneys that work only for the members. CLEAT attorneys were the first to be onsite at critical incidents. CLEAT attorneys were the first union lawyers to appear before the Supreme Court or appeal cases up and down the Appellate System. CLEAT was the first to hire field service representatives to negotiate collective bargaining contracts. CLEAT was the first to hire professional lobbyists and political consultants who work only for our members. CLEAT was the first union to lobby the legislature, pass legislation benefitting officers and their families and the first to run elections in the field helping to persuade local voters to pass local measures like civil service, collective bargaining or pay referendums.
CLEAT has remained Texas strong and independent. We are funded solely by our members so that we answer only to the officers who join and the officers elected to our board of directors. We don’t run our union off of unscrupulous telemarketing, government grants or other questionable financial schemes. We are funded solely by our members.
Now, over 35 years later, CLEAT is larger and stronger than ever. With more than 18,500 members across the state, more than 100 local affiliates, and with 40 world-class professional staff located in every area of Texas, CLEAT is continually growing, continually seeking to live up to our motto: Strength, Justice and Unity.