Over the past six months, members of Houston Justice Coalition (HJC) have worked with the Harris County Sheriff's Department bringing community inclusion into the decision-making process around body camera policy and community policing. With the recent resignation of former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Ron Hickman was appointed to fill out the remainder of his term, and we wanted to make sure a smooth transition would ensue with the new Sheriff.
We presented feedback from our most recent HJC workshop held at Montrose Center where concerns around privacy, data retention timelines and access to data were brought forth by community members. Sheriff Hickman whose background spans decades in law enforcement and has a sweet spot for technology addressed each of those concerns and pointed out a few more that'd come up before. According to Sheriff Hickman, he introduced body cameras for his precinct years before national attention put the option on the front page of the Houston Chronicle.
Here are the major takeaways from the meeting:
Our asks were:
1. Move forward with community inclusion in the decision-making process around the impending body camera policy that we started with the last administration.
2. Allow a third-party study on the pilot program (potential exists with University of Houston's Hobby Institute for Public Policy).
3. Be open to a future discussion around regional policing with other agencies that could lead to more efficiency, savings for Harris County and the City of Houston.
Over all, this was a very productive meeting. We're looking forward to following through with the commitments made by Sheriff Hickman.