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Houston Steps Towards Transparency: Mayor Whitmire Empowers Independent Police Review

By Francis Page, Jr.

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    March 13, 2024 (Houston Style Magazine) — In a landmark move, Houston’s Mayor John Whitmire reinforces his commitment to transparency and justice by inaugurating the Independent Review Committee for the Houston Police Department (HPD). The committee’s mission is to dissect and evaluate suspended incident reports, offering a beacon of hope for victims seeking closure since 2016.

Ellen Cohen, the Chair of the committee, is celebrated for her service both in the Texas House of Representatives and the Houston City Council. She is known for her fierce advocacy for victims of sexual assault and her work towards the historic Pension Reform Package. Her previous role as President and CEO of the Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC) underscores her enduring dedication to the community.

The committee’s integrity is fortified by figures like Captain Jeff Owles of the Texas Rangers, whose 21 years in law enforcement encapsulates a career committed to order and justice. His involvement signals a bridging of state-level expertise with city concerns.

Deputy Inspector General Christina Nowak brings a prosecutorial edge to the team, with her roots in the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office and progressive career through New York City’s educational and fire departments. Her role hints at a no-nonsense approach to review and reform.

Rev. T. Leon Preston II adds a spiritual dimension, reflecting the city’s diverse fabric. With his vast experience as a pastor and law enforcement chaplain, he embodies the moral compass of the committee.

Rounding out the committee is Arturo G. Michel, Houston’s City Attorney with extensive experience in public governance and law. Michel’s legal acumen ensures the committee is well-anchored in the legalities of their undertaking.

Mayor Whitmire’s statement emphasizes the gravity of the committee’s work: “This should never have happened. Under my watch, with the help of the Committee, we are putting a stop to it.” It’s not just an assurance but a solemn vow to Houstonians. This committee doesn’t just represent a political promise, but a significant stride towards an accountable and trustworthy HPD.

Houstonians now have a renewed impetus to trust in their city’s mechanisms, thanks to the Mayor’s decisive action. The expectation is not just for justice to be restored, but for it to be seen to be done, cementing a relationship of trust between the HPD and the community it serves.

Houston Style Magazine stands with Mayor Whitmire’s initiative, confident in the committee’s potential to transform the landscape of local law enforcement. As the committee embarks on its urgent work, we invite Houstonians to follow the developments closely and take heart in this proactive approach to transparency and justice

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