Prairie View adopts police reform policies following George Floyd's death

PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas (KTRK) -- The tragic death of George Floyd captured on camera shook the nation to its core and forced people to ask how law enforcement can do better.

SEE RELATED STORY: George Floyd's family sues Minneapolis, four officers charged in his death

"There was enough officers there to do the right thing. There was no need for that, and it's embarrassing to the law enforcement profession how these officers handled that," said Prairie View Police Chief Kenny Lopez.

Chief Lopez, who came from the Dallas Police Department and took over in Prairie View in January 2020, said officers often follow the policies in place.

"There's no need to put hands on anybody when they're not being a threat to you. Sometimes you just have to talk to people. A lot of times, you can get someone else to come and talk to them. Because it's a small community, you can actually call someone that knows somebody that can get it resolved, where we don't have to have any confrontation," Lopez said.

In a unanimous vote, Prairie View City Council approved Chief Lopez' proposals this week.

  • No more choke holds
  • No more no-knock warrants
  • No more tear gas
  • Limit the use of militarized equipment
  • Form a citizen review board


SEE RELATED STORY: HPD Chief Art Acevedo says people 'don't want less police, they want better policing'

"We just kind of wanted to see where we were as a department and kind of address those things on the front end, before we were faced with any of those situations within our own community," City Council member Jonathan Randle said.

The new policies come the same week of the fifth year anniversary of Sandra Bland, who was pulled over by a state trooper in front of Prairie View A&M University, then ultimately, found dead days later in the Waller County Jail.

"Anything that pertains to criminal justice reform that we do in the community, Sandra Bland - she starts that conversation because I think our system failed her. So I think we have to be proactive, so that history doesn't repeat itself in the City of Prairie View," Randle said.

In six months, Chief Lopez took the Prairie View police force from five officers to 13. He plans to continue community-based initiatives, and looking for peaceful resolutions first.

"We take the time to look at the suspect, but also as a human being, because he has the right to go home or jail safe," he said.

Lopez has proudly launched an open-door policy. Any citizen who has an issue or wants to talk about what's going on in Prairie View can visit the department and talk to him.

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