Floyd's death triggers substantial reform in his hometown

339 days after George Perry Floyd breathed his last breath, the Mayor of his home town moved to permanently alter the manner in which Houston, Texas will be policed by embracing more than 50 far reaching recommendations of a citizen-led reform task force.

"If a Chief of Police or police officers cannot listen to people and feel their hearts, we are not going to be successful," said Houston Police Chief Toy Finner on the day the reforms were announced.

Bishop James Dixon, President of Houston's NAACP and Dr. Carla Brailey of Texas Southern University, were among the 45 members of the task force.

"The reality is usually change doesn't come by asking. We have to demand it," said Brailey.

"We are having to say to our kids, our sons and daughters that if you get stopped, the same rules that apply to  others don't apply to you," said Dixon.


Their collective challenge - identifying the systemic change necessary to reverse deeply eroded trust in law enforcement.

"There is the perception that police have a secret order, a secret club, and police protect police, so overcoming that for our community is a substantial hurdle to cross," said Dixon.

The prescription - a hefty dose of over-due transparency and accountability with mandatory rapid release of officer body cam video, and a reconfigured police oversight board, armed with independent investigators aimed at ending the practice of "police policing the police."

"The community needs to know that even if you don't love me, you respect me, because to disrespect me will bring about consequences that are negative for you," said Dixon.

Another core component of reconstructing confidence - empowering the citizens served with an easily accessible on-line portal to air grievances and lodge allegations if and when police misconduct occurs.

"To say I just need you to listen to me about how I felt when my son was stopped, how I felt when I lost my son. People are being heard and they are seeing the process and understanding that it is going to step one, two, three and they are getting a response. They are getting a response and it may not necessarily be the response they want all the time, but they are getting a response," said Brailey.

And then there's the reform deemed most essential in its long term implication - a positive transformation of "police culture" through enhanced officer recruitment and "anti-bias" training.


Dixon calls it the best and only antidote to what the task force labeled "the bad apple syndrome".

"So whoever you authorize to wear that badge and carry that gun has the power to act out his or her character in the spur of a moment and what's in you will come out of you, especially when you are under pressure and that's what we are dealing with when it comes to policing," said Dixon.

"If we don't do something now, then not only will it continue to occur, but it will be a part of my daughter' generation and her daughter’s generation," said Brailey.

It is "policing" compelled to change for the better by the wrongful taking of a life - a loss that may well preserve untold others in this often troubled and evolving nation which George Floyd called his own.