Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner shares police reform task force recommendations

Miya Shay Image
Thursday, October 1, 2020
Mayor Turner announces police reform changes
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One of the changes the board suggested is releasing body cam footage of incidents in a consistent and timely manner.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After months of anticipation, Mayor Sylvester Turner and his task force on police reform announced a long list of recommendations.

The review board recommended more than 100 changes to the Houston Police Department. You read the full report here.

READ MORE: Mayor Turner's task force recommends over 100 changes to HPD

In June, HPD faced calls for reform following the killing of George Floyd due to police brutality.

Floyd, a Houston native, died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes.

A critical charge by the mayor was for board members to solicit and include input from Houston community members.

More than 7,000 Houstonians submitted surveys to the task force about their impressions of HPD.

According to the results, 24% of surveyors view HPD "very positively" and 25% said they view the department as simply "positively." Meanwhile, 21% marked "neutral" as a response, 19% said they view the department "negatively" and 11% said they see the department "very negatively."

After months of work, the major points of proposed reforms are as follows:

Improve and increase community engagement: This includes reaching out to underserved communities by every level of the police department. The committee is recommending that case training, as well as officer promotion, take community involvement into account.

Overhaul the current Independent Police Oversight Board (IPOB): The task force recommends a hybrid model that will have a full-time, paid administrative and investigative staff, as well as a civilian board.

Timely release of bodycam videos: A consistent and clear policy by HPD on release of body-worn camera footage of officers involved shootings, including timeline. This also includes committing to transparency by releasing data and community survey results on a regular basis.

WATCH: Mayor Turner's news conference announcing police reform recommendations.

Expand community partnerships: HPD already has relationships with mental health professionals and social services organizations, but they want to optimize that opportunity. Task force members want to see those roles expanded to lighten the load on officers when responding to vulnerable populations.

Equip and prepare officers through more training and resources: This includes initiatives like reviewing and updating officer training, expanding mental health and wellness programs for officers, and instituting a mentorship program are all recommended.

Set clear expectations for officers then support them: Task force recommends up to three weeks of engagement training for all new officers. Also, requiring officers to make at least two contacts with people or businesses during each shift.

In its report, the task force recognized that some suggestions will take months to implement and would require changes in state law that can only be done at the legislative level. However, task force members also pointed out other changes can be made relatively quickly.

For example, Turner outlawed choke holds in an executive order signed shortly after Floyd's death.

Just this week, the Houston Police Department participated in the cite and release program, where people are given tickets to appear in court for minor offenses.

It is unknown at this time, how many of the recommendations will be implemented.

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