13:43 PM

Community Gathers at UST to Hear New Houston Police Chief

In the aftermath of encounters involving excessive force by police nationwide, such as the killing of George Floyd, University of St. Thomas – Houston was the site for hosting Houston’s new Police Chief, Troy Finner, May 26, 2021. Chief Troy Finner talked about the recent task force report and its 104 recommendations.

Who Made It Possible & Attended?

Three individuals sponsored the dinner: UST President Richard Ludwick; UST Board Member and President of the Scanlan Foundation, Larry Massey; and UST Alumnus and social justice advocate Laurence “Larry” Payne ‘72. In all, 65 participants attended. They represented a cross-section of community leaders, executives from nonprofit organizations, corporate leaders and individuals from academia.

A Big Job Ahead

Finner confirmed the big job ahead, spoke about how meaningful change will require community involvement and said that reestablishing trust in the community will be crucial.

Reflecting on the event, Payne, who led the Mayor’s Task Force on Policing Reform, cited four cornerstones that are needed for trust to exist.

“The cornerstones are transparency, accountability, communications and relationships,” Payne said.

He further offered that police reform is society’s reform.

“We’ve had big, cross-expectations of our police, asking them to deal with issues related to poverty, hunger, mental health and so forth,” Payne explained. “Yet, there was a shortage of trained, specialized personnel to handle these types of social services calls. A positive outcome of the task force report is that the police department’s crisis intervention response teams will get additional team members to help.”

UST: A Place for Community to Connect

The gathering at UST brought together people who would not otherwise have connected. Their common thread was an interest in social justice and the fair, moral, ethical treatment of all human beings.

To see the report from the Mayor’s Task Force on Police Reform, go here.