State Rep. Borris Miles Wants to Increase Penalties for “Rogue Cops”
April 12, 2011

The videotaped police beating of Chad Holley, a teenage burglary suspect, has led to changes in the City of Houston and could soon shakeup police penalties across the state.

State Representative Borris Miles has introduced a bill that enhances  the penalty for official oppression for law enforcement officers from a  misdemeanor to a felony depending on the severity of injuries to a victim.

On Wednesday, Rep. Miles laid out House Bill 1471 in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. He released a statement to the media.

“I was shocked when the rogue police officers who beat Chad Holley were only charged with a misdemeanor,” said Rep. Miles.  “HB 1471 gives prosecutors a valuable tool they need to go after police officers who abuse their position.” 

 Dr. D.Z. Cofield, president of the Houston NAACP, Dean James Douglas from Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Professor Dwight Watson from Texas State University, and Kevin Petroff of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office traveled to Austin to testify on behalf of the bill.

According to a statement released by the legislator’s office, currently, the penalty for official oppression is a Class A misdemeanor.  HB 1471 enhances the penalty for official oppression to a third degree felony if a law enforcement officer causes bodily injury and to a second degree felony if the public servant causes a serious bodily injury.

 “As a former law enforcement officer, I understand the pressure and high emotions that can occur on the job and believe the vast majority of Houston police officers are professionals,” said Rep. Miles.  “However, when rogue cops get out of control and abuse the civil rights of a teenage boy, we must make sure that the punishment fits the crime and toughening the penalty for official oppression will do just that.”

HB 1471 is part of a package of bills that Rep. Miles has filed in response to the Chad Holley beating last year.  Rep. Miles also filed HB 3357 which would create a Houston Citizens Police Review Board. The review board will have the power to investigate acts of police misconduct and recommend action throughout the state. Finally, Rep. Miles authored HB 1472 that will make sure records of all complaints against individual police officers are retained so that in an incident like this one, citizens can know the complete history of complaints lodged by citizens against a particular officer.

Did A Houston City Council Member Violate Ethics Rules?
February 23, 2011

Houston City Council member Jolanda “Jo” Jones is no stranger to controversy.  Just recently she was cleared by the Office of  Inspector General following allegations of misconduct during a visit to fire station #8.

Now she is facing new allegations of misconduct.

This time from the Houston Police Officers Union and some fellow members of  city council.  They’re accusing Jones of using her city council position to get new business for her private law practice and foster a climate of mistrust between the community and Houston police officers.

The controversy began when Jones handed out flyers at two community meetings organized to discuss allegations of police brutality and the videotaped beating of teen burglary suspect Chad Holley.

The Jones’ flyer has several tips under the headline “Know Your Rights With The Police.”

It states that people should never  speak to police or sign a consent to search.

Jones encourages people to contact their lawyer. 

However, what some find even more troubling is that Jones listed her business phone number for legal services and her city council number for people to report misconduct.

 In an interview that aired on Channel 2, Jones told me that she doesn’t see a conflict of interest and that she believes it’s important for people to know their constitutional rights when interacting with the police.

Meanwhile, several sources have told me they asked for the Office of Inspector General, County Attorney and the State Bar of Texas to investigate Jones.

Stay tuned. Jones insists she has done nothing wrong and believes the allegations are designed to serve as a distraction from some of the bigger problems facing HPD.

Mayor Parker Announces New Police Oversight Initiatives
February 18, 2011

 

Mayor Annise Parker has made a major announcement that she hopes will restore trust between the some members of the community and  the Houston Police Department.

This follows the public outrage over the controversial videotape which showed several Houston police officers beating and stomping on teen burglary suspect Chad Holley. 

 (NEWS RELEASE)

 

Mayor Annise Parker today unveiled a sweeping package of new initiatives aimed at restoring public trust in the Houston Police Department.  The mayor is putting in place two new independent oversight panels, creating an ombudsman to provide confidential assistance to citizens alleging police misconduct and retaining the services of an independent organization to conduct an investigation into the culture at the Houston Police Department. “This plan will allow for increased public input on matters of public safety,” said Mayor Parker.  “It will also help address the community concerns raised in the wake of the release of the videotaped beating of Chad Holley.  As both the leader of this city and the mother of three children, I cannot condone the physical abuse of a child or any citizen of this city.  The vast majority of our men and women in blue protect and serve in an exemplary manner.  But, if a culture exists at HPD that contributes to the behavior displayed in that video, we will root it out and put in place best practices that will identify and prevent police misconduct.”

The new Independent Police Oversight Board (IPOB) will replace the existing Citizens’ Review Committee.  The new panel will consist of 20 members appointed by the mayor and will reflect the demographics and geographic diversity of the city.  Its members will consist of experts in criminal justice, including retired judges and prosecutors, civil rights attorneys and academic experts or scholars.  The IPOB will have unfettered access to all records and police department data and the full cooperation of HPD.  It will review all internal affairs investigations involving allegations of excessive force or the discharge of firearms and other major incidents.  It will also have authority to review all disciplinary cases and make its own recommendations to the chief of police regarding discipline.  A faculty member from the Criminal Justice Department at the University of Houston – Downtown will provide independent advice and counsel to the panel. 

IPOB will also review and make recommendations to the police chief and mayor regarding the hiring of new police officers, training on proper treatment of citizens, evaluation of officer conduct and community concerns relating to police misconduct.  It will produce regular reports to inform the public of its findings.

In addition to the IPOB, the existing Police Advisory Committee will be re-named the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC).  The PSAC will hold monthly meetings in various locations throughout the city to obtain citizen input, meet quarterly with the police and fire chiefs and the local Office of Homeland Security to discuss issues affecting public safety and periodically meet with City Council’s public safety committee.  Its members will be representative of all City Council districts as well as civil rights organizations and public policy organizations.

The City’s Office of Inspector General and members of that office, all of whom are not employed by HPD, will serve as confidential ombudsmen to assist citizens in filing of complaints of misconduct against police officers. 

Mayor Parker is also supporting several legislative proposals that, if enacted, will bolster the reforms she unveiled today. 

The mayor’s plan will be implemented by mayoral executive order.

State Rep. Borris Miles Files Police Accountability Bill
February 17, 2011

Mayor Annise Parker has announced plans for a news conference on Friday. 

The Mayor and some state and local officials plan to unveil a comprehensive plan to restore public trust in local law enforcement, according to a media announcement.

She will be joined by State Senator Rodney Ellis and State Representatives Borris Miles and Garnet Coleman, Houston city council members Melissa Noriega and Ed Gonzalez.

Police Chief Charles McClelland will also be part of the announcement.

Meanwhile, Rep. Miles says he has filed a Police Accountability bill at the State Capitol. 

 (News Release)

State Representative Borris L. Miles Files Bill for Police Accountability
HOUSTON, TX – 02/17/2011 – 

Representative Borris Miles (Houston) has filed legislation that will create a statewide police community review board, enhance penalties for rogue police officers and increase record keeping measures just weeks after the Chad Holley tape was released to the community.

The outcry demanding protection from the abuse of power by rogue police officers led Miles, who first called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, to review the case as a violation of Chad Holley’s civil rights.  He has now filed legislation to ensure fair treatment to all citizens.

“As a former law enforcement agent, I have a particular interest in creating processes that will improve our overall public safety,” said Miles.

After conferring with Houston Police Department and Houston Police Officers Union (HPOU) leadership, he has filed the following bills.

HB 1470-A Statewide Police Civilian Review Board – civilian review board with an independent body empowered to investigate allegations of misconduct by police or peace officers employed by the State of Texas and/or its agencies, public authorities, and public benefit corporations, and to recommend disciplinary action where appropriate.

HB 1471-Enhanced Penalties for Official Opression- this bill enhances the punishment from a Class A Misdemeanor to a 2nd Degree Felony depending on the severity of the injury caused to the victim.

HB 1472-Increased Record Keeping of Police Misconduct whether Substantiated or Not – Requires that all complaints are retained, so that a complete and accurate history can be made available if necessary.

“The three bills will safeguard the rights of our community by holding officers accountable,” said Miles.  “A few simple changes to our process will ensure fair treatment for all Texans.”

The submission can be downloaded at http://tlis.state.tx.us

 

### 

 
Borris L. Miles was elected to serve as the Representative for District 146 in the Texas State House of Representatives in November of 2010.  He is a lifelong resident of the district and grew up in Sunnyside. A former law enforcement officer, Mr. Miles is a successful entrepreneur and businessman, leaving a promising corporate career to launch his own insurance agency.

More Reaction From Local Leaders on Alleged HPD Beating
February 6, 2011

The videotape showing several Houston police officers kicking teen burglary suspect Chad Holley continues to create  shock waves. 

The videotaped has been broadcast repeatedly as local and national media report details of  the controversial story. 

State Senator Rodney Ellis and State Rep. Garnet Coleman have released statements in response to the tape: 

Ellis Responds to Holley Tape

 

“The actions of the HPD officers shown in the taped beating of Chad Holley were excessive, deplorable, and cannot be tolerated. These rogue officers not only brought unnecessary physical injury to Chad Holley, but have undermined the good work of the vast majority of HPD officers. They violated the trust of the community and must be dealt with accordingly.

We entrust officers of the law with an important duty to protect and serve. With that comes a heightened responsibility to act with temperance and appropriate force in any given situation.

As a city, we need to take a serious look at our practices and review public policy to prevent such injustices from occurring in the future. It is essential that we protect the relationship between the police and the community that is integral to public safety.”

 Statement from Rep. Coleman on Release of Chad Holley Video

 I’m appalled and deeply disturbed by the actions of the officers shown in the video. The kicking and stomping of a 15-year-old boy by these officers was brutal, unwarranted and shameful. It is especially disturbing when those charged with keeping us safe so blatantly abuse their power and violate our trust. These individuals are not above the law and must be appropriately dealt with.  

I applaud Mayor Parker and Police Chief Charles McClelland for dealing swiftly and directly with the bad actors. As the Houston Chronicle editorialized, individuals who have been trusted with power should be held to a higher standard. I will work with my colleagues to push legislation that reflects that standard into law.

 Moving forward, we must not let the deplorable actions of the few bad apples ruin the relationships between good officers and our community. It is through cooperation, mutual respect, and appropriate sanctions on officers who violate the public’s trust that we can ensure that all our communities are safe and that such actions never occur again.

Statement from St. Rep. Sylvester Turner on release of Chad Holley tape
February 5, 2011

The community outrage continues to pour in regarding the videotape that shows several Houston police officers kicking and punching Chad Holley, the teenager who was a suspect in a home burglary case.

State Representative Sylvester Turner is concerned the alleged actions of the officers could damage the relationship between HPD and minority neighborhoods.

I have posted his entire statement below. It is followed by a statement from Michael Williams, Houston Community College Trustee and city council candidate.

From State Rep. Turner:   “The actions of some of the police officers shown in the recently-released videotape attack on Chad Holley are disturbing and unacceptable.   No matter how much we love and respect the men and women in blue, the unprovoked actions by these officers should be universally condemned by all.  Whether the senseless actions were being committed by persons against a police officer or police officers against a person, in this City, it is our responsibility to condemn those actions.  The kicking and stomping of Chad Holley cannot be justified or simply glossed over in the midst of bad weather. 

 “It has taken years to build a positive relationship between the Houston Police Department and the general public, especially in minority neighborhoods.  Without question, it requires a trusting and respectful relationship between the two to maintain public safety.  I am incensed that the actions by these few could place a strain on a relationship that has made tremendous strides for the better but whose bond still needs to be perfected.  No matter how distasteful or painful the actions depicted on this videotape may be, the airing of it and the condemnation of the actions shown will make the police force better and allow us all to strengthen a relationship between HPD and the public that may have been strained but is desperately needed.”

From Michael  P. Williams:  “Those who do not know their past are doomed to repeat it” is an often used phrase that has lost its impact. But this week’s recent release of a private security video, showing the beating of a young black man by Houston police officers, brought back memories of a painful time in our history as African-Americans. The days of police beatings and dogs being let loose on our community is something that we think is behind us and today’s youth can hardly imagine. However, here it is again in black and white. As an African-American, whose father was born in Tunica, Mississippi, I understand injustice and the violation of the civil rights of a young man within our community. For those of us who do remember, we must speak up to ensure that it never becomes an acceptable practice again.  In the sense of fairness, we need to continue to hear from all parties involved and keep our discourse civil. We urge our elected officials and police department to act swiftly to bring this issue to a just closure

State Rep. Borris Miles Reacts to Tape of Police Beating
February 3, 2011

By now you have probably seen the videotape: Several Houston police officers kicking and punching teenager Chad Holley.
Holley was a suspect in a series of home burglaries last summer when he ran from Houston police when they tried to arrest him.
The tape shows Holley as he lies on the ground and does not appear to resist officers who continue to kick him, as it appears on the tape.
State Representative Borris Miles issued this statement: “

 “I am deeply concerned about the increased number of civil rights violations at the hands of the Houston Police Department. There can be no tolerance for the violation of our communities civil rights no matter what laws they may have violated. 

As a former law enforcement officer, I believe that the Chad Holley tape represents more than misconduct, rather it represents a blatant abuse of power and excessive force from those Houston Police officer’s. The release of the Chad Holley tape identifies a greater problem within the Houston Police Department, a problem that requires immediate action.

 I have been in communication with Attorney General Eric Holder’s office requesting intercession in this case and urge federal elected officials to join me in bringing justice to Chad Holley. Nothing less than the termination of the officer’s involved in this matter will be acceptable. 

This incident is unconscionable and while I am calling for the removal of the officer’s involved, I want to be clear, this is in no way an indictment on the Houston Police Department or the officers that were not involved in this incident, however we must stop these senseless acts by a few rouge cops.”

 Meanwhile Mayor Annise Parker denied Thursday that she  tried to prevent the public from seeing the tape.  “We have never said that the public shouldn’t see this video,” said Mayor Parker.  “We simply said that we thought the most appropriate place that they see it the first time would be in a court of law when these officers are brought to justice. The frustration is that by the release of this video, it has the strong possibility of causing their trials to be moved out of Harris County.