Tyre Nichols' death shows reform is slow, but there has been progress, TSU professor says

Briana Conner Image
Saturday, January 28, 2023
Nichols' death shows reform slow, but progress there, professor says
Texas Southern University professor Howard Henderson says that in light of Tyre Nichols death, reform is slowly progressing

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Some people who have been pushing for police reform say it feels a lot like 2020 again. As a nation, we are once more grappling with video evidence of police brutality resulting in the death of an unarmed Black person.

Federal legislation to combat police misconduct, excessive violence, and racial bias proposed after the summer George Floyd died never passed. Since 2020, the number of people killed by police has only increased. A Texas Southern University professor said that doesn't mean all those protests were for nothing.

RELATED: Some police reforms in place, but major changes elusive at HPD

The cries for an end to police violence almost three years ago sound similar to what's heard on the streets of Memphis.

Howard Henderson, Ph.D., is the director of Texas Southern University's Center For Justice Research. "We didn't think we'd be here today, right? We thought we had fixed these problems," Henderson said.

Henderson added that reforming systems takes time.

"It's important to note that changing violent behavior and violent subculture is a long-term and difficult process, but it requires commitment from the department's leadership, officers, and community."

That commitment hasn't reached a federal level, but President Joe Biden is now pledging to renew efforts to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

"What's at stake here is innocent people's lives, number one. Number two, it has a lot to say and do with the image of America. It has a lot to do with whether we are the country we say we are," he said.

SEE ALSO: Houston police union says many policies in Texas' George Floyd Act already in place

Despite inaction in Washington, Houston's police department has implemented some reforms protestors pushed for, like bans on excessive force, chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and a mandatory release of body camera video showing police killings within 30 days.

Henderson says what can't be changed by outside pressure has to come from within.

"You have to create a culture of accountability. You have to promote transparency and openness. At the end of the day, you have to encourage officers to help identify and solve these problems, " Henderson said

He described a culture shift that can lead to slow but steady progress as people pleased with the arrests and charges in Tyre Nichols' case continue to press for convictions.

"I think we're moving forward. You now see more police officers being held accountable than ever before, and unfortunately, there are people who have to die to see this. That's the sad part about it," he said.

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