Tracking police reform: 90 days after Houston's report, what has been accomplished?

On Sept 30, Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Task Force on Policing Reform issued over 100 recommendations, 60 of which, it stated, were achievable within 90 days. (Community Impact staff)
On Sept 30, Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Task Force on Policing Reform issued over 100 recommendations, 60 of which, it stated, were achievable within 90 days. (Community Impact staff)

On Sept 30, Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Task Force on Policing Reform issued over 100 recommendations, 60 of which, it stated, were achievable within 90 days. (Community Impact staff)

Update Jan. 21:

Community Impact Newspaper received confirmation that Mayor Sylvester Turner is planning to restructure the Independent Police Oversight Board and replace the current chair.

The mayor's office also allocated $6 million toward the Houston Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Response Teams, also known as CIRT, and its new Domestic Abuse Response Teams, or DART. This was on a temporary basis, though Turner said it could lead to full time funding increases.

“The goal is to be able to find additional funding to keep our DART teams as well as our [Crisis Intervention Response] teams going at an expanded reach to expand their capacity,” he said when the funding was announced.

This meets a goal in the report’s 6-to 12-month projected timeframe.


Original post Jan. 7:

Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Task Force on Policing Reform, released Sept. 30, included over 100 recommendations, 60 of which, it stated, were achievable within 90 days.

Three months later, however, just five of the report’s 90-day recommendations can be confirmed as completed after attempts by Community Impact Newspaper to obtain updates from city officials.

“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,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said at the time of the report’s release. On Oct. 7, he said he was “overwhelmingly supportive of most of the ideas” in the report.

The recommendations ranged from translating misconduct complaint forms into different languages to revising body worn camera policies. Calls for reform were amplified this summer after Minneapolis police killed native Houstonian George Floyd on May 25.

So far, Turner has publicly announced the department’s transition to a cite-and-release policy for low-level offenses and introduced a new “safe harbor” court to help residents avoid escalating civil fines. A Houston Police Department General Order was also updated Oct. 25 to include new standards of psychological care for officers after "critical incidents," such as injuries.

Prior to the report’s publishing, Turner also signed an executive order enforcing a ban on no-knock warrants without written permission from the chief of police and banning chokeholds and other uses of force “unless objectively necessary.” Both policies were already upheld by HPD but were codified for future leadership by the executive orders.

Requests for additional accomplishments from city staff and task force members were unsuccessful. As the 90-day reform window set by the task force passes, Community Impact Newspaper has created a tracking scorecard to identify which measures have been adopted. As information is received from city officials, this list will be updated.



By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.