Recommendations For Change

Commentary Bishop Frank Rush, Ray Hunt & JoAnne Valley Rush

JoAnne Valley Rush and Bishop Frank Rush

I applaud your response. Things are not good now in race relations in this country.

And though these acts of horrific racism are not new, the “promise” of change seems to keep eluding those who face it daily.

Can you imagine many Moms I know having to tell their young sons they cannot go out at night, or by themselves even for a run around the neighborhood? This is not America in the 50’s or 60’s, it’s RIGHT NOW!

And yes, Moms in my church made the comment. How sad to have to live like this!

And yet the majority “Conservative Christian” leaders seemingly are quiet as a mouse. It appears as silent approval of these barbaric police tactics. Blacks and other minorities are anguished and at the point of desperation. Thus, protests are turning violent.

Ray Hunt, Past President, Houston Police Officers’ Union

Much- but not all- is because of anarchists. But some- if not muchis sheer frustration at the “promise” of change, but no actual change.

Then, to add fuel to the fire, a very ill-timed and completely insensitive statement by Pres. Trump in ordering protestors (“looters”) to be shot is just beyond belief! Even Conservative Christian Pat Robertson took him to task for such an un-Presidential statement.

Unity seems just a pipe dream to give to those at the bottom to anesthetize their pain and desire for improvement toward equality of treatment. Yet, I remain hopeful & prayerful. I refuse to quit or become cynical.

Here are a few suggestions:
A. legislation to federalize police tactics -including stopping the police knee on the neck tactic- is the primary step to be taken; this tactic should never be permitted UNLESS lethal force would be justified, just as is our policy regarding striking someone above the shoulders with a baton.

B. increase Civilian Police Review Boards all over the nation, starting in recent hot-spot cities where Blacks have died as a result of wrongful Police tactics; We are not opposed to review boards as we have two now in HPD. The Independent Police Oversight Board and the Administrative Discipline Committee. The activists want a review board with subpoena authority and we only support subpoenas from a Federal grand jury, DA office, or State Grand Jury. Police do not have subpoena authority for suspects in murders, robberies, etc. Why should those with political agendas have that authority?

C. Town Hall Meetings – even by Zoom if necessary- to allow the citizens, cops, city leaders, county leaders, civic clubs, clergy and corporations (the “7 C’s”) to exchange ideas for cooperation, improvement and defuse boiling anger in the community; We totally support this.

D. start of more Police & The People Clubs where officers meet, engage & play with inner-city youth; We totally support this.

E. more Police & The People Meetings in local underserved communities; We totally support this.

F. increased de-escalation training of police; We totally support this.

G. less appointing of police who don’t closely know the community where they are to serve; Only police chiefs appoint officers, not Labor. Management also does all the training, discipline, hiring, and firing, but not wants to blame Labor for what they have created.

H. get more of the majority Christian Community to speak up & speak out on the wrongfulness of this recent death and their resolution to help be part of the solution for positive change; We support this, just as we would support that same Community speaking out against the killing of police officers and the horrible rhetoric our officers endured on those lines from the 5%.

I. funding of smaller churches or ministries to help set up more programs for the community especially to resolve some of he joblessness and agitation between the people and the police. We don’t oppose this. MOST of the persons we arrest are unemployed. We have also been supportive of PR bonds for non-violent offenses when the suspect has a verified job.

Certainly, I don’t expect you or your organization to do it all. But we are here to partner with you in addressing the pain, problems and persecutions of all, but especially in the urban community where we serve- 3rd Ward where George Floyd lived.

A few other points that need to be known. HPD has over 2 million citizen contacts each year. We have around 1000 complaints per year and 800 of those come from officers against officers. Only 20% come from citizens. HPD is shorthanded, but our internal affairs is 100% staffed. We welcome the Feds or Rangers to investigate our police shootings. We already have the Civil Rights division of the DA’s office make every scene of a police officer shooting, which by the way happens less than 20 times per year and nearly all (90%) are armed with a weapon.

Our police chief can fire any officer accused of a crime in 48 hours. That officer will then get no pay and only has 1 appeal, which is binding. Even criminals have 2 appeals after their court case is decided. Sadly our Chief is not giving the whole story and I will make myself available to any group to answer questions anytime, so long as I am treated with respect, just as I treat those I speak with.

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