HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed a 45-member task force to outline recommendations for policing reform in Houston. The committee will review policies and practice of the Houston Police Department and the independent police oversight board, Turner announced Wednesday at a press conference.
Laurence “Larry” Payne was selected by Turner to serve as chair of the police reform task force. Payne, a longtime political and community leader, is currently the Director of Strategic Partnerships, Civic Engagement, and Critical Conversations for the Houston Public Library.
Turner said the residents selected to contribute on the task force represent diverse backgrounds, sectors and affiliations, including the NACCP, the Urban League, the disabled, the LGBTQIA+ community, business, education, Millennials and the faith-based community. He also named five special advisors to the task force.
“I don’t intend to dictate to the members of the task force how they should do their work, what conclusion they should reach, or the recommendations that they should make,” Turner said.
The task force will meet for the first time during the week of July 6, according to Houston officials.
Turner provided the task force with a list of “charge items” to consider, but not limited to:
- Review the Houston Police Department policies and practices related to the use of force
- Review the operations of the independent police oversight boards and recommend changes
- Establish criteria for when video footage, i.e. office body camera, should or should not be released to the public
- Outline best practices for crisis diversion when dealing with substance abuse, mental health and homelessness
- Evaluate the HPD Crisis Intervention Response Team
- Evaluate and set recommendations for HPD’s community police and relational policing practices
- Outline how to decrease the presence of police without adversely affecting safety
The task force will present a final report to Turner, which will outline the assessment, findings and recommendations, by Sept. 30. The report will include practical recommendations, implementation plans, improvement metrics and timelines, when applicable.