Posts filtered by tags: Gritsforbreakfast[x]


San Antonio can't fire cops who use the N-word or feed homeless people feces: Accountability systems in Texas civil-service cities broken

In San Antonio, recently, a fired police officer was reinstated by an arbitrator after repeatedly using the N-word to address a black suspect while handcuffing him. The head of the police union said it was no more offensive than the mayor publicly using the word, "goddamn." I suspect that's a minority viewpoint. San Antonio has emerged as the premier case study demonstrating that Texas' civil-service system is broken: 70% of police officers fired by the chief end up back on the force. The cit...
Tags: Texas, Law, Goldman, San Antonio, Garcia, Legislature, Bexar County, Gritsforbreakfast, Roger Goldman, Saint Louis University School of Law, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Tim Garcia, Emilie Eaton, Luckhurst, Matthew Luckhurst, TCOLE

Houston PD decides public can know when police might injure or kill them

For years, Houston PD has kept its use of force policy secret, abetted by a series of Texas Attorneys General. Most of their General Orders were public, but the use of force policy was largely redacted. While the AG upheld Houston's request to keep the policy secret (an example of the transparency losses suffered when the Legislature codified Holmes v. Morales in 1997), to my knowledge, few other departments had followed their lead. Grits always thought that's because keeping the policy secret ...
Tags: Law, Dallas, Houston, Houston Chronicle, Holmes, Legislature, Morales, AG, Gritsforbreakfast, Houston PD, Resistance Austin

TCOLE screwed up new racial profiling data required in 2017 Sandra Bland Act

Many kudos to the Houston Chronicle's Eric Dexheimer for identifying a big screw up by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement regarding racial-profiling data collection by Texas law enforcement agencies. In 2017, the Texas Legislature expanded the data collected to include after-stop data involving arrests, searches, contraband discovered, and use of force. But when the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement went to implement the statute's requirements via rule making, they excised the "racial" d...
Tags: Texas, Minnesota, Law, Sandra Bland, Houston Chronicle, Legislature, Eric, Texas Legislature, Gritsforbreakfast, Garnet Coleman, Eric Dexheimer, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Houston PD, Kim Vickers, George Floyd, TCOLE

A primer for new, local police-reform advocates in Texas

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,  committed, citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  - Margaret Mead On the Reasonably Suspicious podcast this week, the Austin Justice Coalition's Chas Moore and I talked about the recent wave of Black Lives Matter protests across Texas, including in small towns and parts of the state without a significant history of civil-rights activism. In particular, we discussed how local reformers in smaller jurisd...
Tags: Texas, Minnesota, Supreme Court, Law, America, United States, San Antonio, Don, Marshall Project, Texas Legislature, Margaret Mead, Rushin, Gritsforbreakfast, Stephen Rushin, Public Information Office, Susan Chira

Advice for Texas police reform activists outside the big counties: Interview with Chas Moore, plus was George Floyd set up by a crooked Houston narcotics cop? Texas' anachronistic 'riot' laws, and other stories

Better late than never, here's the June episode of Just Liberty's Reasonably Suspicious podcast, co-hosted by me and Amanda Marzullo. This month, Mandy and I reflect on the last month's tumultuous protests and calls for police reform in Texas and beyond. Top Story Reflecting on the George Floyd protests, including an interview with Chas Moore of the Austin Justice Coalition. Fill in the Blank Was George Floyd set up by a crooked Houston narcotics cop?The policy behind the slogan of "Defunding ...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Houston, Marshall, East Texas, Mandy, Chas, Gritsforbreakfast, Chas Moore, Brian Manley, Amanda Marzullo, George Floyd, Austin Justice Coalition Fill, Defunding Police Texas

Police reform roundup

Let's clear a few browser tabs; here are some odds and ends that recently caught my attention and may also interest Grits readers: Houston Chronicle: Chief Harris County trial prosecutor resigns over post comparing Black Lives Matter to Nazis.Houston Chronicle: Houston City Council hears calls for police reform, improved oversight board, reduced police budget. Here's another article on Houston's weak and ineffective civilian oversight board.SA Express News: Arbitrator reinstates SA cop fired for...
Tags: Texas, Law, Colorado, Dallas, Houston, Apd, Fort Worth, Ny Times, Houston Chronicle, Congressional Research Service, Harris County, Denver Post, Texas Tribune, Houston City Council, Gritsforbreakfast, Black Lives Matter to Nazis Houston Chronicle

Rodriguez must navigate attack over botched #SandraBland vote

Regular readers will recall the ignominious fate last year of Rep. James White's legislation, inspired by the Sandra Bland case, limiting police officers' authority to arrest people for Class C misdemeanors. Confused and unmotivated Democrats killed the bill, twice! Despite widespread, bipartisan support. This left a terrible taste in my mouth, so Grits was not disappointed to see the issue arise in my own local state-senate race, where former County Judge Sarah Eckhardt criticized Rep. Eddie...
Tags: Law, Austin, Eddie, Sandra Bland, Legislature, James White, Rodriguez, Travis County, Eckhardt, Gritsforbreakfast, Houston San Antonio, Eddie Gonzalez, Sarah Eckhardt, Eddie Rodriguez, Donna Howard

Reform updates from Dallas, Houston, and Austin, a police-union hissy fit, how police spend their time, and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends related to policing that merit Grits readers' attention: Big D Demands for Police Reform Check out a out of Dallas from anti-police brutality activists, and see coverage from the Dallas Morning News: Dubbed 10 New Directions for Public Safety and Positive Community Change, the demands fall into one of two categories, the authors say: reprioritizing city and county money currently earmarked for public safety and increasing transparency and accountability.Among...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Houston Chronicle, Austin Dallas, Sylvester Turner, Dallas Houston, Gritsforbreakfast, Austin PD, Brian Manley, Harris County Commissioners Court, Gerald Goines, Office of Police Oversight

Policing budgets and outcomes: A Catch 22

Viewed broadly, America finds itself essentially at the bottom of a thirty-year crime decline. But as police have had less crime to respond to, their budgets and staffing have ballooned, reported Politico this week. Police officials routinely tell the public that cutting their budgets would make us less safe. This is true even at agencies that had their budgets increase and saw crime rise. Indeed, have you ever noticed that, when it comes to police budgets, there's no version of reality tha...
Tags: Law, Politico, America, Gritsforbreakfast

Imagining a "George Floyd Act" for Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has already suggested he'd be open to signing a "George Floyd Act" next legislative session, and legislative offices have begun jockeying over who should carry such a bill and what should be in it. As a thought experiment, let's explore possible policy proposals such George-Floyd legislation might embrace. The Texas legislative session won't begin until January, so there's plenty of time to add to and refine this list. (As always, gentle readers, please suggest any omis...
Tags: Texas, Law, Aclu, Rick Perry, Houston, Greg Abbott, Legislature, Coleman, Harris County, West Texas, Texas Legislature, Sheriffs, Texas DPS, Gritsforbreakfast, Goines, Senfronia Thompson

Roundup on policing and COVID in prisons

Here are some recent articles Grits found enlightening that may interest readers as well: Policing More police-reform polling: People don't want to "defund" police; 50/50 on divestment/reinvestment; but other reforms are popular. See additional, related polling here, here, and here. Police unions and police misconduct: what the research says. As cities grew safer, . Former police chief explains why it's so hard to fire bad cops. . Confessions of a former bastard cop. St...
Tags: Texas, Law, America, Gritsforbreakfast, Minneapolis Police Department COVID

Data sources on racial disparities in the Texas justice system

Been asked a few times now by reporters where to get data about racial disparities in the Texas criminal-justice system. Were I assigned that task, here's where I'd start: Texas Justice Initiative has data on police shootings and deaths in custody, including prisons and jails.TCJC's criminal court database for Bexar, Harris, and Dallas counties lets you do racial break outs by arresting agency, offense category, and average bail amounts for those three jurisdictions.For data on prisons, probati...
Tags: Texas, Law, Dallas, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, TCJC, Prison Policy Institute, Texas Justice Initiative, Bexar Harris

Time to consider disbanding police departments in Texas (and no, I'm not calling to "abolish" police)

Grits has been thinking a lot recently about the barriers to meaningful police reform in Texas and ways around them. Chief among those barriers is the state civil service code governing most larger police agencies and various police-union contracts authorized by it. Both the civil service code and those contracts include provisions making it difficult to fire police officers who engage in misconduct and, in the case of the contracts, may lock in certain employment and spending levels that thwar...
Tags: Texas, Law, Minneapolis, Austin, Camden, Ferguson, San Antonio, Lone Star State, Texas Legislature, Express News, Texas Municipal League, Gritsforbreakfast, Austin PD, Austin Justice Coalition, Phillip Goff, Austin Christopher Taylor

Family: More to death-in-custody of Enrique Quiroz than official reports let on

The police abuse cases that receive national attention like George Floyd typically are ones where a bystander captures the incident on cell-phone video and police are unable to contain information about the event. But isn't it remarkable how many problematic police killings in Austin (and really, everywhere) aren't fleshed out in the press until well after the fact, if at all? Recently, the Statesman's Tony Plohetski told the story of Javier Ambler, who died begging for his life while a Willi...
Tags: Law, Austin, Apd, Williamson County, Quiroz, KXAN, Gritsforbreakfast, Tony Plohetski, George Floyd, Javier Ambler, Enrique Quiroz, Austin PD Though Quiroz

Hundreds of complaints filed against police over Austin protests

The Austin Office of Police Oversight received complaints from 606 people between May 29 and June 10, and is recommending 227 separate complaints based on those communications. The release of this information in and of itself is a victory for transparency in police oversight: Before 2018 changes to the police contract won by the Austin Justice Coalition and their allies, the city would have deep sixed this information and nobody would ever have known any complaint details. Even with names and lo...
Tags: Law, Austin, Apd, OPO, Gritsforbreakfast, Austin Justice Coalition, Austin Office of Police Oversight, Levi Ayala, APD Internal Affairs Division

Austin Council demands reform; police chief touts toothless half measures

Whether history will view the resolutions passed at the Austin City Council yesterday as a true turning point for policing in this city remains to be seen. But the resolutions at least opened up the possibility we could see change on a scale previously unseen at the police department in the Texas capital. Leadership Change: Council has "No Confidence" Item #96 on yesterday's agenda included a statement of no confidence regarding Police Chief Brian Manley and the city's public-safety leaders...
Tags: Texas, Law, America, Austin, City Council, Apd, Austin City Council, Manley, Austin Police Department, Gritsforbreakfast, Austin PD, Austin Statesman, Brian Manley, Alison Alter, Leslie Pool, Austin Justice Coalition

Big D city-council majority endorses defunding police agenda; other Texas cities may follow suit

The Dallas City Council is considering its own defunding police agenda. Reported the Dallas Morning News:as the council tries to address ongoing demonstrations against police violence, more members say they’re open to “defunding” — or reallocating resources from public safety into other city services.Several council members plan to release a memo calling for City Manager T.C. Broadnax to propose budget options that would take public safety dollars and funnel them into other resources to “restore...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas City Council, Sylvester Turner, Gritsforbreakfast, Broadnax, Austin Grits, Adam Bazaldua, Leticia Plummer

Protest fallout, remembering George Floyd, abolishing police in schools, coronavirus and the courts, and other stories

Let's clear a few browser tabs with a roundup of odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention: Austin city council ready for its close up on police reform First, on Thursday, the Austin City Council will hear 5 #cjreform resolutions including a directive to strengthen Austin PD's use of force policy and another calling for a reduction in the police department's budget. Council offices report having received so many thousands of emails and phone calls that their systems are failing an...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Houston, Council, Abbott, Greg Abbott, Austin City Council, Houston Chronicle, Floyd, Harris County, Texas Supreme Court, Smith County, Mike Hall, Gritsforbreakfast, Austin Statesman

Man begged for his life while Williamson County deputy repeatedly tazed him, then he died

At the Austin Statesman, Tony Plohetski has the story of a man killed by Williamson County Sheriff's deputies last year while reality-TV cameras looked on as he begged for his life. His story opens: Javier Ambler was driving home from a friendly poker game in the early hours of March 28, 2019, when a Williamson County sheriff’s deputy noticed that he failed to dim the headlights of his SUV to oncoming traffic. Twenty-eight minutes later, the black father of two sons lay dying on a North...
Tags: Law, Austin, Camden, Taser, Williamson, North Austin, Ambler, Williamson County, Gritsforbreakfast, Austin PD, Tony Plohetski, Javier Ambler, Williamson County Sheriff, Travis County Austin, Plohetski, Zachary Camden Amber

Austin City Council to consider limiting police use of force, no-confidence vote for police chief, in wake of recent protests

Next Thursday, the Austin City Council will consider several resolutions related to policing issues in response to recent protests. Two in particular merit Grits readers' attention: Item 95 by Greg Casar would limit use of lethal force and so-called less-lethal munititions. The new direction on police use of force policy would be much more restrictive than the current one: Use of deadly force against individuals, including persons fleeing (in vehicle or on foot), shall be limited to situati...
Tags: Law, Apd, Austin City Council, Manley, Greg Casar, Gritsforbreakfast, Brian Manley, Spencer Cronk, Natasha Harper Madison

Video of injured Austin protesters, Texas Monthly interviews Grits and Chas Moore, local TX GOP chairs tell on themselves, when cussing is (not) a crime, and other stories

There's been so much coverage of policing issues in the last few days, rounding it all up would be an impossible task. But here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention: Video of injured Austin protesters A bunch of people have asked me to post the police brutality video my wife presented at Thursday's Austin City Council meeting. This was actually prepared by a gal named Catina Voellinger, who has posted it on Facebook. Watch it here.  Texas Monthly, Chas, and me Te...
Tags: Facebook, Texas, Law, Austin, Gop, Aclu, Dallas, Houston, Donald Trump, Martin Luther King Jr, San Antonio, Miller, Austin City Council, Torres, George Soros, Chas

If Austin Police Chief Brian Manley won't resign, he needs a new job title

In Austin, city legal staff has told City Manager Spencer Cronk that the state civil service code won't allow him to fire Chief Brian Manley, only demote him to chief of staff. This is due to Sec. 143.013(c) of the Texas Local Government Code which mandates that: if a person is removed from the position of department head, the person shall be reinstated in the department and placed in a position with a rank not lower than that held by the person immediately before appointment as department head....
Tags: Texas, Law, Minneapolis, Austin, Legislature, Manley, Austin Police, Acevedo, Cronk, Gritsforbreakfast, Brian Manley, Spencer Cronk, So Grits

Did a Houston cop set up George Floyd years before Minnesota cops killed him? How militarized policing escalated protests; 50 years of ignoring 'accumulated grievances,' and other stories

It's been a crazy few days for those of us who work on criminal-justice reform. The news right now is filled with analysis and accounts of all the protests, so I won't rehash it all. But here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention: George Floyd in Texas We've been learning more about George Floyd, who died in Minnesota at the hands of police but grew up in Texas and was a victim of corrupt police here, as well. Mike Hall at Texas Monthly wrote a brilliant profile of Floy...
Tags: Texas, Minnesota, Law, America, Austin, Houston, US supreme court, Texas Rangers, Ku Klux Klan, Mike, Houston Chronicle, Midland, Floyd, Marshall Project, Supreme Court Justice, San Antonio Express News

Feeling hopeless: Is there room for moderation on police reform?

Via Twitter. A few weeks ago, Grits was on a Zoom call with local activists asking Austin city manager Spencer Cronk to fire his police chief, Bryan Manley. There are many reasons, but the proximate cause was an APD officer murdering Mike Ramos, an unarmed black man whom the cops assaulted while he stood before them with his hands in the air, then shot to death when he fled. Cronk refused, but said he might reconsider as the situation developed.  Chas Moore of the Austin Justice Coaliti...
Tags: Law, Minneapolis, Austin, Apd, Chas, Austin Police Department, Cronk, Gritsforbreakfast, Chas Moore, Mike Ramos, Austin Justice Coalition, Spencer Cronk, Bryan Manley, George Floyd

Prosecutor-turned-TV-star cultivated ring of informants to give false testimony in cold cases, federal judge declares

Imagine prosecutors cultivating a "ring" of jailhouse snitches to give false testimony in cases where there otherwise was insufficient evidence to convict the defendant. Well guess what? You don't have to imagine. A recent Houston Chronicle article by Julian Gill described remarkable allegations against former Harris County prosecutor turned TV star Kelly Siegler, with a federal district judge claiming that she concealed information about the recruitment of an informant from federal prison on...
Tags: Law, Court, Ellison, State, Houston Chronicle, Beaumont, Brady, Walker, Harris County, Keith Ellison, Foreman, Court of Criminal Appeals, Kelly Siegler, Siegler, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ

Reasonably Suspicious podcast back from hiatus: Austin police chief under fire, COVID in TX prisons and jails, Harris DA calls to overturn shady drug convictions, and other stories

After a three-month hiatus while your correspondent underwent throat-cancer treatment, here's the May 2020 episode of Just Liberty's Reasonably Suspicious podcast, co-hosted as always by me and Mandy Marzullo. Grits must admit, until I was editing all this together, I hadn't realized how much the radiation treatment had affected my vocal chords: I sound like a different person, decidedly heading in the raspy, Tom-Waits-ish direction. (Really that's wishful thinking; my singing voice is completel...
Tags: Google, Texas, Law, Austin, Tom Waits, HARRIS, Bryan, TX, Mandy, Texas AG, Gritsforbreakfast, Chas Moore, Austin Justice Coalition, Rosa Jimenez, Mandy Marzullo Grits

Rainy Day Reading

Poking around this afternoon on some state agency websites, I ran across several disparate items I wanted to record for my own purposes which may also interest Grits readers: State Prosecuting Attorney: Check out an interesting Power Point detailing different legal provisions establishing prosecutors' duty to disclose evidence to the defense in Texas, as well as limitations on defense attorneys' ability to advise clients on how to handle potentially incriminating evidence. Texas Indigent Def...
Tags: Texas, Law, Abbott, Texas Commission, Gritsforbreakfast, Texas Indigent Defense Commission, Texas Forensic Science Commission

Manley exonerates Mike Ramos' shooter in report to Ken Paxton filled with false statements

The killing of Mike Ramos by the Austin PD has been an instructive moment. Chief Brian Manley's reaction to the shooting of yet another unarmed man tells us definitively that he has no intention of changing his stripes, and justifies the increasingly widespread calls for him and the APD leadership team to all lose their jobs.  If there was any doubt of this, the death-in-custody report Chief Manley filed with the Texas Attorney General demonstrates that he intends to continue time-worn patterns...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Apd, EMS, Midland, Ken Paxton, Ramos, Manley, Toyota Prius, Christopher Taylor, Gritsforbreakfast, Austin PD, Mike Ramos, Brian Manley, Bonnell

Hero Grandma prevents Midland cops from shooting grandson, Austin to end driver-license holds on traffic tickets, Joe Biden is a jackass, and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention: Midland Grandma a hero for putting herself between black grandson and over-zealous cops In Midland, bystander video caught police officers swarming a young black man with guns drawn after he allegedly rolled through a stop sign. They continued to point their guns and scream at him long after he'd laid down on the ground to give himself up, and from the video, it looked for all the world like he was about to be shot. The boy'...
Tags: Texas, Law, Joe Biden, Austin, Donald Trump, San Antonio, US supreme court, Abbott, Greg Abbott, Houston Chronicle, East Texas, Legislature, Midland, San Antonio Express News, Tyler, Texas Supreme Court

Texas leaders' budget direction for prison agency makes no sense

Texas state agencies have been asked to prepare budgets that include 5% cuts in light of reduced tax revenues thanks to the coronavirus and plunging oil prices, the Texas Tribune's Jolie McCullough reported on Twitter. The TDCJ Correctional Security division and UTMB Managed Correctional Healthcare are exempt from cuts, but "Other parts of TDCJ's budget though — like parole, education/training programs, drug treatment, executives — seemingly will have to be in proposed 5% cut." This is exactly...
Tags: Texas, Law, Texas Tribune, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Jolie McCullough, TDCJ Correctional Security, UTMB Managed Correctional Healthcare

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