In the Houston police reform task force's 150-page report unveiled Sept. 30, the 45-member group recommends strengthening the police oversight board, reducing the amount of time to publish body camera video and expanding use of mental health service providers.
“It acknowledges the need to move policing from the concept that it is now in place of warriors and back to the concept of being guardians,” said Larry Payne, task force chair and an official for the Houston Public Library.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said he is willing to consider all of the recommendations but declined to indicate which will be his first priorities.
“Give me a few days to digest it, but it is my intention to try to move forward and adhere to the timelines they put forth as much as possible," he said.
The release of the report is considered the first phase of the task force's work, Payne said. Next, the group will work with city officials to identify ways to implement the proposed policy changes, either though city council action, executive order or contract negotiations with the Houston police officers union. It is possible that some issues will need to be taken up by state lawmakers, however, Turner said.
Some of the report's suggestions come with timelines for implementation ranging from one month to a year.
A third phase of the task force’s work will focus on tracking the changes proposed in the document and holding city officials accountable if they do not implement them, Payne said.
The task force recommendations were published online, and Turner said that as he reviews them over the next week, he will also listen for feedback from the public. Beside suggesting that he will have considered all proposals within a week, Turner did not give any specific information about when residents will see new policy changes implemented.
Turner did, however, point to an ongoing effort to create an online dashboard for residents to view officer complaint information as well as HPD’s new cite-and-release program as examples of reforms taking shape ahead of the task force report.
The mayor formed the task force after nationwide protests following Houstonian George Floyd's killing by Minneapolis police in May.
Turner did not respond to protests by proposing a reduction in HPD funding, as some activists pushed for, but instead engaged in a monthslong public input and task force process.
View the full report here.