Restoring Public Trust
by: Pat Hernandez, February 18, 2011 11:02:00 pm
In the wake of the videotape police beating of teenager Chad Holley, Mayor Parker is putting into place 2 new independent oversight panels, and hopes it ends the culture of police lawlessness.
Parker says a new Independent Police Oversight Board replaces the existing Citizen Review Committee, which will reflect the demographics and geographic diversity of the city. She adds the existing Police Advisory Committee will now be known as the Public Safety Advisory Committee. It will get citizen input from monthly meetings.
"The object of this board is to have the major organizations — NAACP, LULAC, The Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, others, and individuals representing different sectors of the community who can come together and meet regularly with the police chief and also the fire chief."
Mayor Parker says the Houston Fire Department needs to reorient itself in terms of public service and openness to citizens. She also announced the creation of an ombudsman to help citizens with complaints of police misconduct. Former FBI agent Bob Doguim, the city's inspector general, will head the office.
"The role of the ombudsman is really just an extension of what the inspector general already does, and that is that we take complaints that come from the public. It will not be to serve as an investigative arm, but instead to coordinate the process, along with the Police Department and with the public."
Mayor Parker says the new initiatives are part of an effort to restore the public's trust in the Houston Police Department.