HPOU: Council Recommendations on Police Reform Illegal, Redundant

Houston's police union is dismissing a list of police reform recommendations signed by five city council members.

The union's Ray Hunt says his group was never contacted by the council members before they made their recommendations public, and he knows why.

“We could have corrected much of the misinformation that's in that letter. We could have booted the things that are against state law in that letter. And we could have noted the things we're already doing in that letter,” he says.

Hunt takes issue with one recommendation in particular, which would enter allegations against an officer into a permanent data base.

“Any sustained complaints, fair game. But allegations, no,” he says. “Those also come sometimes from ex-spouses. Sometimes from people who are in child custody cases or neighbors that don't like you.”

Even Mayor Sylvester Turner appeared to dismiss council's recommendations when asked Monday.

“We are all taking this matter very seriously. And it's important for us to work with all of the stakeholders, as many of the stakeholders involved. But to do it in such a way that will be constructive for the city as a whole.”

Mayor Turner went on to say there's room for improvement in every department of the city.

“Public safety is a top priority. We have 5,300 police officers and by in large they do an outstanding job,” he said. “Just because you put in reforms, it's not intended to disparage the police department as a whole.”

The mayor appointed a 45-member Task Force on Policing Reform following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. Their recommendations are due out by the end of this month.

“We're already working. I'll give you an example, cite and release. That's already in the works and that will not be waiting on the task force to come forward.”

The letter sent to the mayor is signed by councilors Jerry Davis – District B, Edward Pollard – District J, Tiffany D. Thomas- District F. Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz- District D and Vice Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Castex-Tatum – District K.

They asked that these changes come with specific disciplinary action for each violation and are contractually binding.

  1. HPD officers must not interfere or prohibit any individual from using their cell phone and can only prevent the arrested party from using their cell phone once a determination of arrest is necessary.
  2. HPD officers, who are not undercover, must clearly state their full last name, and specific police station they work out of during any police civilian interaction involving detainment or arrest.
  3. Present an ordinance for vote to city council related to Cite and Release for minor nonviolent offenses.
  4. Offer incentive pay for a designated number of officers to live in each of the 11 city council districts.
  5. Conduct targeted recruitment efforts at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSI).
  6. Preferential hiring consideration for applicants who reside within the city limits.
  7. Eliminate the 48 Hour Rule as detailed in the current Meet and Confer Agreement.
  8. Eliminate the 180 Day Rule as detailed in the current Meet and Confer Agreement.
  9. A strategy should be implemented to determine what operations require when two officers must be assigned to a patrol car.
  10. A designated citizen, appointed by new oversight board, must be present at the scene of all walk-throughs of officer involved shootings for observation.
  11. A designated citizen attorney, appointed by new oversight board, must be present at the scene of all walk-throughs of officer involved shootings for observation.
  12. All walk-throughs of the scene of officer involved shootings must be video recorded.
  13. Officers involved in a shooting must submit a written statement of their recollection of the incident before seeing footage of the incident.
  14. HPD General Orders, relevant crime data and statistics must be regularly updated and publicly accessible on the HPD website.
  15. Random psychological exams shall be administered to selective officers throughout the year.
  16. Mandatory community engagement hours in predominately minority areas for all patrol officers.
  17. All complaints of police misconduct by officers on other officers shall remain anonymous, but the nature of complaint and the disposition must be compiled and publicly accessible.
  18. All new hire officers should be required to have a 4 year college degree.
  19. No officer should be given overtime pay, or allowed to work off shift police jobs, while under investigation for police misconduct.
  20. Mandatory disciplinary action for any HPD officer (and all city employees) found to have posted racially or culturally derogatory statements on social media or online.
  21. Adopt the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s policy suggestion to minimize the use of provocative and unnecessarily aggressive tactics and equipment at city coordinated public protests.
  22. A member of Houston City Council shall participate in the HPOU Meet and Confer negotiations; preferably the Vice Mayor Pro-Tem.
  23. HPD officer recruiting process shall be reviewed with input from the African American Police Officers League (AAPOL) and Organization of Spanish Speaking Officers (OSSO).
  24. Institute a policy that clearly establishes guidelines and procedures for the release and access of dash-cam/officer worn body camera footage for individuals, families, and the public.
  25. Require the Chief of Police to sit before the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee upon request.

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