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Houston rolls out ‘Police Transparency Hub’; What it is, how to file a police complaint

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HOUSTON – Houston launched a website it calls the Police Transparency Hub, touted as a system to “make it easier for the public to file a complaint against a police officer and search information about the Houston Police Department’s encounters and demographics.”

What it covers

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office announced the hub’s creation in a news release, describing it as “five dashboards that more easily allow community members to access data, policies and other information related to Cite and Release, Use of Force, Traffic Stops, HPD Disciplinary Actions, and HPD Employee Diversity.”

How to file a complaint

To file a complaint, the online transparency hub allows members of the public to upload photos and videos and include other information about the encounter with a police officer. The form also allows users to file complaints anonymously and is available in English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, French and Arabic.

What will happen to the complaints

The newly created Office of Policing Reform and Accountability, led by Deputy Inspector General Crystal Okorafor, will oversee the investigation of online complaints along with complaints from the Independent Police Oversight Board (IPOB). The mayor’s office said the data will be updated every month.

An individual may file a complaint directly online or with community organizations including, but not limited to, the NAACP, LULAC, Anti-Defamation League, Islamic Society of Greater Houston, Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities, and the Mayor’s LGBTQ Task Force. The various community organizations will forward the complaints to the Office of Policing Reform and Accountability.

The Deputy OIG will accept complaints in person and by mail at the following locations.

PHYSICAL ADDRESS:

Office of Policing Reform and Accountability

900 Bagby, 4th Floor

Houston, TX 77002

PHONE: 832.393.6772

EMAIL: COH_Policing_Reform@houstontx.gov

MAILING ADDRESS:

City of Houston

Office of Policing Reform and Accountability

P.O. Box 368

Houston, TX 77001-0368

What authorities are saying about it

In April, Turner’s office said it announced plans to implement recommendations submitted by the Mayor’s Task Force on Policing Reform, including procedures on how the public can file complaints and access vital information about HPD.

“Today’s launch is another significant step toward increasing transparency and accountability while building trust between the public and the police department,” Turner is quoted as saying in the news release. “We are moving forward to implement other initiatives, like investing in crisis intervention and a new policy on releasing body-worn camera video. Houston is leading the nation on policing reform, and we are just getting started.”

“The current climate has illuminated the need to change our criminal justice system. We know that the community will not trust law enforcement unless we prioritize transparency. The Police Transparency Hub is step one. The online complaint filing process will promote accountability as we work to strengthen the relationship between the community and law enforcement,” Deputy Inspector General Okorafor is quoted as saying in the news release.

“I am grateful for the many hours of work people have invested in creating and maintaining the Police Transparency Hub,” Turner is quoted as saying. “This work is made possible by the City of Houston IT Services Department, Houston’s diverse community of criminal justice reform advocates who expressed their views through the Policing Reform Task Force and public comment.”

KPRC 2 is reaching out to Houston police for omment.


About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, social media news and local crime.