Police in Brazoria County collaborating with NAACP on reform

Five months after George Floyd’s death, significant reforms have taken place in several police departments in Brazoria County where he was buried.

Things like police use of force, de-escalation tactics, and regular psychological testing are some of the issues being honed in on by police departments following the death of George Floyd.

The NAACP has helped lead that movement for improvement.

“We don’t want to defund,” said Brazoria County NAACP President Eugene Howard. “No one wants a world where when you call for help, no one comes. We understand that.”

Howard has formed a closer relationship with local police, as departments like Pearland Police work on revamping their policies.

“We found 26 items that we agreed that both the NAACP and the Pearland Police Department felt were positive initiatives for law enforcement,” said Pearland Police Asst. Chief Chad Randall.

After the death of George Floyd, Pearland Police invited Howard to be a member of their training advisory board, as they update de-escalation and use of force policies and look to hire a more diverse police force.

“One of the things that we did that I think is a little bit different is that we have actually put every single one of our employees through de-escalation training,” said Randall. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the business administrator, the records clerk, the jailer, or the police officer on the street.”

West Columbia Police also talked with Howard and added changes to prevent corruption and bias in their department.

“Some of the stuff that I want to bring in that I’m very interested in doing is some of the psychological testing,” said West Columbia Police Chief Paul Odin. “One of the ones that they’re talking about that I’m interested is in bias.”

Howard says he hopes new adjustments in the local police will help mend the community relationship with police.

“We want them to be guardians over our people and not warriors looking to fight, and I think if we can get back to that motto, the anti-policing wouldn’t be there, because if you’re a guardian, you wouldn’t be out there with shields, riot gear,” said Howard. “You would want to protect the protesters and guarding their civil rights, their civil liberties.”

Angleton’s police chief met Howard during a large march through his city after the death of Floyd. There were marches like that across the nation, but what happened at this one was a strong bond was formed between the NAACP and the police department.

“What I love about Eugene and Brazoria County NAACP from my experience so far is that they truly seek healing and harmony which is my passion as well, so that we can serve all aspects of our community,” said Angleton Police Chief Aaron Ausmus.

Ausmus has been working to make sure his department is well trained in responding to calls that involve mental illness, conducting more frequent reviews, and making sure that whenever possible, officers are using less-than-lethal options.

“It’s important for officers to be able to fall back on Taser, to be able to fall back on PepperBall and other non-lethal options before having to go to the very very last resort which would be having to use the service weapon,” said Ausmus.

Angleton police also closely track racial profiling statistics to make sure their officers are not unfairly targeting one race, and they report that data each year to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.