5 Houston City council members send letter to Mayor Turner on police reform suggestions

Miya Shay Image
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Read the police reform suggestions sent to Mayor Turner
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Turner's office issued a statement saying, "he plans to forward the letter to his task force on policing reform for review and consideration."

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Mixed responses hours after five Houston City Council Members sent a three-page letter to Mayor Sylvester Turner Monday morning on suggestions for police reform within the Houston Police Department.

Council Members Edward Pollard, Tiffany Thomas, Jerry Davis, Carolyn Evans-Shabazz and vice Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Castex Tatum wrote the letter and forwarded to other Council Members Saturday night, asking for cosigners.

The letter says they're convinced there needs to be a complete overhaul of the Independent Police Oversight Board, among a long list of suggestions.

"We are not anti-police, we are anti-police brutality and this letter was to give our suggestions and keep the conversation moving so that we can all say we live in a city that is fair and equitable," said Castex Tatum.

MORE: When protesters cry 'defund the police,' what does it mean?

Below is a list of a few items among the list of suggested reforms:

All police officers must have a four-year college degree.

Random psychological tests of officers

A designated citizen must be at the scene of all walkthroughs of officer-involved shootings.

All of these walkthroughs after an officer-involved shooting must be recorded and captured on video.

All officers involved in a shooting must submit a written statement before seeing any video footage of the incident.

SEE ALSO: Austin City Council votes to cut police department budget by one-third, reinvest money in social services

Houston Police Officers Union's Ray Hunt says some of the suggestions are already in place, and other just doesn't make sense.

"We're already down 64 percent on applications to be police officers," said Hunt. "This is a slap to everyone who went to the military to defend our country, instead of going to college," he said, referring to discharged members of the military being able to apply to the Houston Police Academy without a college degree.

"We can't put in everything and we can't satisfy everyone," said Council Member Jerry Davis. "What we can do is this is a starting point, and it's an opportunity for us to get information to the mayor."

Houston Black Lives Matter activist Ashton Woods says he felt like the letter does not go nearly far enough. He wants to see systematic change that including moving money away from the police department.

"It doesn't go far enough, and it doesn't include any active parties where we're talking about," said Woods, who has been critical of Mayor Sylvester Turner for being too supportive of police and not instituting changes fast enough. "There is a lot of holes in this. It just seems like they're trying to get ahead of something."

When asked about the letter Monday afternoon, Mayor Turner says it is just one letter in stacks of suggestions he's received from citizens and elected officials since forming a police reform taskforce after the death of George Floyd.

"There will be reforms, whether they will go as far as some would like? I can't speak to that," said Turner. "I think there are number of things we'll have to approach. I suspect there will be changes to the Independence Oversight Board, and task force will have their recommendations."

WATCH: Mayor Turner's response to the letter of 'no confidence' for the HPD oversight board

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