Sugar Land, Missouri City police chiefs discuss policy, accountability in the wake of George Floyd's death

George Floyd, who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis in late May, was laid to rest nearly one month ago. However, local police departments continue evaluating practices and discussing the issue of racial injustice and police brutality in America.

When asked what changes in policing in general he thought were necessary, Missouri City Police Chief Mike Berezin said, “’I’ll leave that up to the lawmakers.” Berezin said Missouri City recently added a ban on chokeholds to policies. Under the ban, officers can only use chokeholds in instances where deadly use of force is authorized.

“I don’t condone murder anywhere, and [Floyd’s death was] a travesty,” Berezin said. “It’s a shame that anybody loses their life to a murderer, especially when the murderer is a person who wears a uniform and is expected to protect the public.”

As organizations and individuals across the country are calling for the defunding of police departments, Berezin said he feels funds—not from law enforcement budgets—need to be going toward addressing mental health challenges.

“All of those challenges have been dumped in the lap of law enforcement for way too long without funding,” he said. “So in the event that they decided to start funding mental health programs and social service programs, I’m all for it.”

Sugar Land Police Chief Eric Robins said, during a June 2 roundtable discussion with Fort Bend County Judge KP George, within police departments there has to be a strong sense of accountability. He also emphasized the importance of making sure individuals are cut out to do this job.

“We have to continue on and hold everyone—starting with the top—accountable for every action that we take,” Robins said. “There has to be a constant and consistent review of our policies, our procedures, and we have to keep evolving.”

Robins said there have been a lot of conversations within law enforcement about de-escalation—attempting to talk people down and control the situation instead of exciting the situation.

“I tip my hat off to a lot of police organizations on what they’re doing, but there’s still a lot of work that we can do,” Robins said. “I’m committed to continue to work with our community ... to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to build that trust.”

Berezin said, if any case like Floyd’s were to occur in Missouri City, he has no doubt another officer would have stepped in to save Floyd’s life.

“I guarantee you there’s not an officer here who would have stood by for more than a second if they saw that going on, especially when the man’s saying, ‘I can’t breathe,’” he said.
By Claire Shoop
Claire joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2019 as the reporter for the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2019 where she studied journalism, government and Arabic. While in school, Claire was a fellow for The Texas Tribune, worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Texan, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. She enjoys playing cards with her family and listening to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.
By Beth Marshall
Born and raised in Montgomery County, Beth Marshall graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in communication and a minor in business. Originally hired as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in 2016, she became editor of the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition in October 2017.


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