Top local law enforcement officials talk criminal justice during NAACP discussion

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- On Thursday night in Acres Homes, the NAACP Houston Branch and ABC13 partnered to bring four of the top law enforcement leaders in the area onto one stage to take questions about criminal justice.

This was a no holds barred conversation. The goal of everyone in the room was to build better relationships between all arms of law enforcement and the Houston community, specifically communities of color.

To several of the people who asked questions, the relationships start with holding officers who commit crimes accountable. District Attorney Kim Ogg pointed to an increase in grand juries returning indictments on officers, including the most recent case involving a Houston police officer indicted last week for charges of assault and tampering with evidence.

"I can't guarantee a successful prosecution because ultimately juries are made up of citizens," Ogg said. "Citizens will set the standard for police behavior and police-community interactions that are negative."

When asked what HPD is doing to stop racial profiling in minority communities, Chief Art Acevedo said he's planning training for officers to identify their own biases.

"We actually did it with our command staff and activists in the same room because there are some people that have bias against people in police uniforms that if you're a cop you must be a thug," he said.

But he told the people law enforcement agencies have no way of knowing of officer wrongdoing unless people report it. Same goes for officers who see wrong.

"Our people will know we will not tolerate retaliation. As a matter of fact, if you fail to report an officer, as another officer, you know about misconduct you're going to be held accountable for what you knew or should've known," Acevedo said.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said hiring also plays a part.

"I also think diversity among the ranks in our hiring practices is helpful. The more we can hire from diverse communities the better it helps," Gonzalez said.

You name it, they talked about it: bail reform, human trafficking, the fight with the state over enforcement of immigration laws, and more.

ABC13 was the media partner for this installment of the NAACP Houston Branch Quarterly Conversations Series.

EMBED More News Videos

Local law enforcement leaders talk about criminal justice

Report a typo to the ABC13 staff

Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.