Leaders hope to restore trust in HPD

February 18, 2011 3:28:36 PM PST
It's been more than two weeks since the release of a controversial video showing Houston police officers kicking and beating a teenage burglary suspect. Despite the disciplinary actions already taken against the officers, some feel there is not enough accountability for the Houston Police Department. On Friday, authorities took steps they say will help restore the public's trust.

The mayor said she wants to see if there's a cultural issue inside the Houston Police Department and if there is, she wants to root it out with the help of citizens.

"I am unveiling a sweeping package of new initiatives aimed at restoring public trust in the Houston Police Department," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker

Flanked by lawmakers and council members, Mayor Parker made announcements on sweeping changes on how complaints against the police department will be handled.

"This plan will allow for increased public input on matters of public safety. It will also help address the community concerns raised in the wake of the release of the Chad Holley videotaped beating," said Mayor Parker.

Ever since Eyewitness News first broadcast the disturbing video of Houston police officers and then 15-year-old Chad Holley, community activists have cried out for change.

Today, Mayor Parker says she'll be creating a new 20 member, independent police oversight board. There will also be a separate public safety advisory committee. The Office of Inspector General will act as confidential ombudsman for citizen complaints.

Mayor Parker says she'll institute the changes by executive order, but the police officers union says it's not sure any changes are necessary, saying these new committees will just add another layer of bureaucracy.

"We have internal affairs, we have grand jury, and we have the court system, and they want to put a fourth section in here to judge officers," said Ray Hunt of the Houston Police Officers Union.

The union told us they believe that everything that has been done is all that could be done.

The mayor feels otherwise and says the changes will be implemented by executive order.

Press conference comes to abrupt halt

As State Representative Armando Walle was speaking, a loud thud was heard. Local photographer Tony Morris had collapsed. The mayor, police chief and legislators rushed over to Morris. At one point, Chief McClelland performed CPR on Morris.

Fortunately, an ambulance came quickly and Morris gave the thumbs up as he was being transported to the hospital. We're told he's expected to be OK.

After about a half an hour delay, the news conference continued.