HOUSTON – In a sweeping announcement today, Mayor Sylvester Turner outlined his plans to implement a significant number of the recommendations submitted by the Mayor’s Task Force on Policing Reform to improve accountability, transparency, change police policies and build mutual trust and respect with the community.
Joined by City Council Members, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, Task Force Chair Larry Payne, Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Persse and others, Mayor Turner announced the following steps he has taken to implement the recommendations:
- Changed the Houston Police Department’s policy on Body-Worn Cameras to allow for the release of video within 30 days
- A ban on “no-knock” warrants for nonviolent offenses
- Appointed a Deputy Inspector General of the new Office of Policing Reform and Accountability
- Signed an Executive Order to restructure the Independent Police Oversight Board (IPOB) and named a new board chair.
- Changed how the public can file complaints and access information on a newly designed website with five data dashboards regarding police transparency. (View demo at the bottom of the news release)
- Invest $25 million in crisis intervention over three years.
“As a native Houstonian who grew up in underserved communities, I believe this is a very important moment. But it is even more gratifying because it was Houstonians who put together these recommendations, and we are now acting on them and will continue to act on implementation,” said Mayor Turner. “I am also inspired by the council members because it has been a collective effort.”
Mayor Turner has appointed Crystal Okorafor as the city’s deputy inspector general in the new office of Policing Reform and Accountability. Okorafor is currently an assistant district attorney with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Stephen Ives, CEO of YMCA of Greater Houston, will chair the restructured oversight board.
“I believe the work that this task force has done will benefit this city for years to come,” said Mayor Turner. “I do believe what is happening here is transformational, and other cities across the country are taking note.”
The Task Force recommended that the city expand existing partnerships between the HPD, mental health professionals, and social services organizations to lighten the load on officers when responding to vulnerable populations, such as those experiencing mental health crises, domestic violence, human trafficking, substance abuse, and homelessness.
To implement the crisis intervention recommendations, Mayor Turner announced the city will:
- Expand crisis case diversion. $272,140 annually to hire four additional counselors.
- Increase the number of Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams by 18 teams; hire 36 additional clinicians; local mental health authority will need funding to hire. $4.3 million annually
- Add six CIRT Teams, six additional counselors and six additional MHD at $2.4 million annually
- Implement Clinician Officer Remote Evaluation (CORE) proposal to provide tele-health technology to 80 HPD CIT Trained Officers on patrol. $847,875 annually.
- Fund Citywide Domestic Abuse Response Team with a victim advocate and forensic nurse examiner $800,000 – $1.2 Million annually.
City of Houston | Media Release