How is Houston reforming HPD? Mayor Turner and Chief Finner reveals key changes

Miya Shay Image
ByMiya Shay via KTRK logo
Friday, April 30, 2021
EMBED <>More Videos

Nearly a year in the making, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reveals what the city will implement from a task force panel's recommendations to reform the police department.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With deaths from violent crimes seemingly happening every other day in the city, Houston leaders revealed how they're putting into place recommendations made by a task force formed in the wake of 2020's unrest after George Floyd's death.

On Thursday, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Chief Troy Finner outlined the steps their implementing to reform the police department going forward, especially when it comes to accountability of the city's law enforcement.

Here are some of the key implementations Turner announced:

  • A ban of "no-knock" warrants;
  • A new online portal for complaints from the public, which will be viewed and addressed by a full-time staff;
  • New timeline rules to release bodycam footage following critical incidents;
  • Police transparency online dashboard that shows key statistics, including those involving traffic stops and use of force;
  • Instituting "Safe Harbor" initiatives that would allow courts to hand down alternative punishments to those who can't afford to pay fines;
  • And, expanding the partnership between HPD and mental health services when it comes to the response with vulnerable populations.

WATCH: Houston introduces complaint portal and accountability dashboard

Change in the way Houston addressed violent crimes has not just been an administrative goal, especially after a 2020 that counted more than 400 deaths from murders.

As of late, police officers have responded to areas of the city where violent crimes have become all too common.

The police department has also undergone a shift at the top with the appointment of HPD executive chief Troy Finner as chief of police.

Last September, the panel, which was formed in June 2020, recommended releasing body camera footage of incidents in a consistent and timely manner; restricting use of force for all HPD officers; and expanding the use of mental health professionals who would help officers by intervening with those in a mental health crisis, domestic violence, human trafficking or who may be involved with substance abuse or homelessness.

The report also calls for more de-escalation training for officers and overhauling the Independent Police Oversight Board to include a diverse civilian board to "hold the HPD accountable to a higher standard."

SEE ALSO: Houston law enforcement working to lower crime as violence among teenagers increases

'Assume' everyone has a gun, Houston Mayor Turner cautions

Follow Steve Campion on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Follow Miya Shay on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.