HOUSTON - The community is reacting to the Mayor's Police Reform Task Force.
The Right 2 Justice Coalition, for instance, using the theme “Justice Can't Wait”, is calling for the Mayor to make police reform changes sooner rather than later.
"I recognize that the decisions we're making are life and death decisions. Someone's life is going to be spared perhaps because of the work that we're doing,” explains Bishop James Dixon.
As one of the Co-Chairs of the Mayor's Police Reform Task Force, Bishop Dixon says each of the 104 recommendations were well researched.
"As much diversity as possible all came together and understood Houston too like the rest of the nation, has a problem,” says Dixon. Some of the proposed changes to the Houston Police Department include instituting a mentorship program pairing new recruits with hand-selected seasoned officers, “Scenario Based Training” designed to help officers better deescalate situations and zero tolerance for demeaning, derogatory language against citizens.
"It doesn't matter who he or she respects them because normally when a person receives respect they're more inclined to give it,” says Bishop Dixon.
Another recommendation is to make police body camera footage available in a timely manner. “Refusing to release videos of killings which disproportionately are of black men defeats the purpose of having body cameras and does significant harm to trust and confidence,” says Nick Hudson with ACLU of Texas.
Some in the Right 2 Justice Coalition who took part in a virtual meeting say they fear the suggestions will be disregarded. "In general there have been a well-documented pattern of appointing powerless task force in Houston and ignoring many of their recommendations,” says Rain Eatmon with Houston Justice.
Bishop Dixon says not addressing what he calls “systemic issues that have persisted for decades" is dangerous because of the overwhelming number of people who have had what many consider unnecessary racist run-ins with officers.
"I've had experiences that were less than what you would expect from a police officer wearing a badge and I don't know a black man who doesn't have that story. What we put forth we believe is good not just for the community but for police officers as well,” says Bishop Dixon.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he will meet with the Task Force before making any decisions regarding the recommendations.