Houstonians propose citizen’s board to hold HPD accountable

The HPD Citizen Review Board is demanding change.

HOUSTON – A group of local community leaders proposed a Houston Police Independent Citizens Investigative Board to create transparency between the community and the Houston Police Department.

“It is a central tenet that they will hide misconduct in even illegalities by police officers and so that’s why we need transparency here,” said Shelby Stewart, a civil rights activist and retired HPD sergeant.

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The board would review and investigate internal police investigations of possible misconduct by police officers and make the final decision on discipline. It would be able to subpoena documents, interview witnesses, suspects and police officers.

The board would be comprised of community members from multiple organizations and the law schools at Texas Southern University and the University of Houston.

Community leaders said it’s necessary, especially a day after a Louisville grand jury announced no police officers will be charged in the death of Breonna Taylor.

The citizens' investigative board would work to ban the use of no-knock warrants. Taylor and Houston couple Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas died in botched raids.

“We need the mayor, the chief to be open and transparent what happened with the Tuttles. We are all the Breonnas and the Tuttles in America today,” said Hai Bui with We the People Organize. “That can happen to anyone in this country.”

Members must meet certain requirements and be available 30 to 40 or more hours a week to review cases.

According to the proposal, the board would be funded by the City of Houston budget not to exceed $3 million a year.

“Until we make a change, until we come together, until we look at documents like this, and afford us an opportunity for a solution, we are not moving,” said civil rights activist Cynthia Cole.

In June, Mayor Sylvester Turner signed an executive order regarding the use of deadly force and no-knock warrants.

Turner also appointed a Policing Reforms Task Force to review Houston Police Department policies and practices.

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