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Where are we again with the IPOB?

Are we moving forward, or are we standing still?

A longtime member of Houston’s Independent Police Oversight Board has resigned, saying the organization’s structure prevents it from providing meaningful oversight of the Houston Police Department and should be disbanded.

In a pointed letter to Mayor Sylvester Turner dated Aug. 13, board member Kristin Anderson wrote that the civilian police watchdog “does not serve its stated purposes and it provides cover by making it appear that independent oversight is taking place.”

“In this time of radical rethinking of the purpose and function of law enforcement, someone with the courage and moral imagination beyond tinkering with the edges of reform should rethink citizen oversight in Houston,” she wrote. “If we do not act now, what a profound opportunity we will have missed.”

The resignation marks the latest criticism of the volunteer board and comes amid widespread scrutiny of law enforcement departments following the death of longtime Houston resident George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer in May.

[…]

In an emailed statement, Turner said that when he appointed his policing taskforce earlier this summer, he ordered its members to review potential changes regarding the IPOB.

“Their work is ongoing, and I look forward to receiving the final report,” he wrote. “In fact, I already have sent Kristin Anderson’s letter to the chair. Ms. Anderson has served on the Independent Police Oversight Board since 2011. I appreciate her work and contributions to the City of Houston and wish her well.”

[…]

Anderson called on Turner to include members with a broader range of perspectives on the board.

“Formerly incarcerated citizens and others who have had both positive and negative experiences with law enforcement would represent the Houston community in a way that IPOB does not,” she said.

She also noted that she had never seen the IPOB fulfill one of its other charges: “to review and make recommendations on recruitment, training and evaluation of police officers; and to consider community concerns regarding the department.”

The letter is embedded in the story if you want to read the whole thing. We’ve had this discussion before, and it’s cleat there are many reforms that can be accomplished, some by Congress, some by the Legislature, some by Mayor Turner and City Council, and some by the collective bargaining process, which kicks in again this December. The Houston Justice Coalition has made three simple demands: enforcing body camera usage, more transparency with the IPOB, and giving the IPOB subpoena power. It should be noted that the Austin Police Department’s IPOB has better transparency than Houston’s and can initiate its own investigations, but the APD is kind of a mess, so these things have their limits. But all of them together would represent significant progress. We have to wait on the Lege till January, and Congress isn’t going to be able to do anything without a different Senate and a different President, but the city stuff can get moving any time.

Which reminds me, that Mayoral Task Force was formed in early June, and their report was to be delivered in three months. That means we’re a couple of weeks out from the deadline, at which time there better be a mandate to act. I just wanted to note this so we’re all ready for when it happens.

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9 Comments

  1. Terrance says:

    The mayor doesn’t want change. He will ignore this task force just like he ignored the one for eviction momentum. Task forces are made to create cover for him.
    The collective bargaining will be done in private as normal.

  2. David Fagan says:

    HPOU engages in meet and confer, not collective bargaining.

    This is exactly what people should come to expect. Requests made by the public are met with committees, task forces, and a lot of talk.

  3. David Fagan says:

    By the way, how’s that three million dollars spent on live music at Hobby airport working out?

  4. Manny says:

    David it is doing great according to at least one source. That money comes from the money raised at the airport and cannot be spent elsewhere per federal law.

    David if you hate Houston so much, why not quit and move out, it should be easy for a first class firefighter to find a job in another city.

  5. David Fagan says:

    It’s doo wonderful to hear from you, Manny, I can always look forward to your valuable contributions. Thank you so much for your advice, it warms my heart that you have others’ best intentions in mind, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  6. David Fagan says:

    Hey, Manny! I posted on the railroad commissioner thingy also, so go over to that article and post some more of that wonderful Manny opinion that is so wonderfully valued! Tooodles!

  7. David Fagan says:

    Don’t forget the supreme court withdrawal thingy also!

    Twice Toodles!

  8. Manny says:

    Well I guess, I am a little like Hillary Clinton, living rent free in your mind. Hillary lives in your leader’s mind, Donald Trump.

    You asked a question that you knew that involved money from the airport enterprise funds, what do you expect?

    Stick to the issues David.

  9. David Fagan says:

    How many progressives does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

    NONE! They’re all trying to burn the building down!