Houston Mayor implementing more than 50 police reforms

For a citizenry enraged by the injustice of George Floyd's killing and the chronic, unequal treatment of countless others - an uncompromising demand for change has been answered.

"As someone who grew up in this City, as someone who grew up in communities that were under served, this a very important moment," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Leaning heavily on the recommendations of his Police Reform Task Force, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced adoption of measures aimed at changing what he calls the "the Eco-System of Public Safety".

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"This is something we are doing not only for us today, for the walking talking now generation, we are doing it for a future generation Houstonians yet to be born," said Larry Payne, Chairman of Policing Reform Task Force.

Topping the list - the mandatory release of officer body cam video within 30 days of a police shooting and the complete reconfiguration of the Police Oversight Board with the addition of independent investigators.

"This is the most important thing that's going to happen in this City and quite frankly in this country," said Steve Ives, the new chairman of the Police Oversight Board.


Other key reforms include creation of a policing transparency website with a portal for on-line complaints against officers, 18 additional mobile crisis intervention teams for the mentally ill, implementation of "cite-and-release" for most minor offenses and the initiation of officer training to eliminate "implicit bias".

"If a chief of police or police officers cannot listen to people and feel their hearts, we are not going to be successful. You can't have use of force and policy changes and you don't change hearts and minds in training," said Troy Finner, HPD Chief.

Having waited months for action, Houston's NAACP heartily endorsed the reforms as a massive step toward restoring trust.

"Citizens will know exactly what happened, when it happened, why it happened and who is to blame," said James Dixon, President of NAACP Houston.

As for the target of this reform, Houston Police Officer Union President Doug Griffith says his members welcome the additional training, support and even the rapid release of body cam images.

"We've been saying from day one, we'd like it released as soon as possible. Again, our officers are doing it right out there," said Griffith.


Turner says the police transparency website is set for immediate launch and allows Houstonians who seek to express complaints and concerns regarding officers to remain anonymous.