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Houston City Council members propose HPD policy changes in letter to Mayor Turner amid calls for police reform

The suggested police changes include an online platform for civilians to report officer misconduct and an overhaul of the current police oversight board.

HOUSTON — Five Houston City Council members have come forward Monday with suggestions for reforming the Houston Police Department in an effort to rebuild trust between civilians and officers amid nationwide protest for change in law enforcement.

The proposal includes changes such as a 4-year college degree requirement for all new hires, mandatory community engagement in minority neighborhoods for all officers and random psychological exams.

The council member's most fundamental request is a complete overhaul of the Independent Police Oversight Board in favor of a new board that will have complete autonomy, access to all unclassified information from the HPD and investigative power.

The councilors are also asking for an online platform for the public to report police misconduct. It's meant to improve police community relations and create more transparency, they said.

In a letter addressed to Mayor Sylvester Turner, the council members go on to list 25 changes and other demands that the council members want included in the next Meet and Confer Agreement as the city prepares negotiations with the Houston Police Officers Union.

RELATED: Mayor Sylvester Turner names 45-member task force on police reform

It’s 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

The council members believe the policy changes can be implemented immediately and will ensure needed oversight, transparency, and accountability in policing from the local level.

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