HOUSTON (FOX 26) - It was back in 2015 when Freddie Gray was being transported in a Baltimore police van. According to published reports, Gray was handcuffed and unrestrained when he fell into a coma after being thrown around in the police transport. He later died.
That resulted in a violence in Baltimore while also costing the city $6.4 million in a civil settlement with Gray's family. That death nearly two years ago was a warning to the Houston Police Department.
Doug Griffith with the Houston Police Officers' Union says, "The department wanted to be proactive to make sure we didn't have a situation here like there was in Baltimore."
That's why HPD has paid over $300,000 for new prisoner transport vehicles for the department. There are five with technology to keep detainees from being thrown around resulting in injuries or death. Those vans will move inmates from the city-owned jail to Harris County or to court when necessary.
"It's gonna have cameras, it's gonna have seat belts and the officers are not exposing themselves to danger by transporting these prisoners," says Griffith.
In addition to transporting inmates from jail to jail, we're told the vans will also be used by vice during some of their undercover and sting operations–operations that require officers to be exposed to detainees.
Griffith with the Police Union says the new vans provide several layers of security for officers as well.