Monday, October 05, 2020

Report from Houston Policing Task Force should launch broader conversation

The Houston Mayor's Task Force on Policing Reform covered a lot of ground in its 150-page report, considering a large variety of changes, big and small. The sprawling report was so dense and byzantine, Grits decided to distill it into a 3-part blog summary/commentary (linked below) that itself came in at more than 5,000 words. They simply addressed a lot of stuff! 

The Task Force recommended more than Grits expected but less than I'd hoped. These are very much reformist approaches that contemplate improving systems addressing police misconduct, not reducing police interactions with the public overall. (The one exception is their endorsement of Houston PD availing itself of a 13-year old statute allowing police to give tickets instead of arresting for certain minor offenses.) That doesn't mean they're not important reforms, they're just not radical ones.

There's a risk a report like this with its 104 deep-in-the-weeds recommendations will be briefly acknowledged in the press, then shelved. But it could/should be the starting gun for a broader discussion across many subjects, not the final word on reform. Grits' hope is that these commentaries contribute to that conversation in Houston. It's much needed.

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