Police Reform Unveiling

With George Floyd’s shocking murder at the hands of former police officer Derek Chauvin and Chauvin’s subsequent conviction, many police departments are focused on police reform. Recently, Mayor Sylvester Turner and members of the City Council unveiled changes for the Houston Police Department including:
  •  A complete ban on no-knock warrants, duty to intervene, verbal warning before using excessive force when possible, ban on choke-holds, and ban on shooting at a moving vehicle
  • Total revamp of the Independent Police Oversight Board with a new chair, new structure of duty, operation, and function that will be equipped with a full-time Deputy Inspector General and staff conducting and managing independent investigations on police misconduct
  • Fund allocation for the My Brother’s Keeper program for youth mentorship, expanding the court diversion programs, and altering hiring practices.
  • Formal body camera policy mandate for all video, permissible by law, to be released to the public within 30 days
  • Expansion of medical staff to strengthen our Crisis Intervention Units and Domestic Violence Units to handle calls for de-escalation
  • Police Transparency Dashboard – online portal to track police misconduct, report complaints online, and house information relative to race, reason and outcome
A sincere thank you for the unyielding collaborative efforts of the City Council and individuals who stayed dedicated to push forward these reforms totaling $25 million dollars. This is a significant step toward restructuring how we keep our communities safe, make HPD stronger, and hold our officers accountable.

Reflecting on the George Floyd Verdict

In the midst of continued deaths of African-American boys and men across the country at the hands of police officers, the George Floyd case weighed heavily on the minds of many. During a City Council meeting, Council Member Pollard remarked on the guilty verdict of former police officer Derek Chauvin for killing Floyd. He commented on the high standards the community has for police officers to serve and protect, and the need to explore opportunities to bridge gaps and move forward.
Edward Pollard Comments on Chauvin Verdict

Adopt-A-Drain Program

As we care for our communities, small things can make a big difference. Since Winter Storm Uri, the Houston Public Works office has received an increase in 311 calls related to debris blocking drains and inlets. The team regularly removes leaves and vegetation debris during regular inspections and based on caller requests.
Thanks to a partnership between Houston Public Works, Keep Houston Beautiful and other community partners, residents can help keep drains clear through Houston’s Adopt-A-Drain program. This initiative empowers community residents to help prevent future flooding, save taxpayers’ dollars, and keep our more than 100,000 drain inlets clean. Through the program, adopters make a commitment to keep the drain clear of leaves and trash, four times a year, specifically before rainfall. As of April 2021, 1,812 drains have been adopted. To adopt a drain, visit: HoustonAdoptaDrain.org, enter your email address, and follow the link you are sent. View the short video on the website to review the process. 
Safety Tips:
  • When cleaning drains, be sure to wear gloves and bright, reflective clothing.
  •  Call 311 to handle chemicals, firearms or animal remains or if you see someone blows leaves or yard waste down a storm drain. 
  • Caution children not to pick up broken glass, needles, or other sharp objects. 

Autism Awareness Month

Studies show that millions of Americans live on the autism spectrum. The District J office is working with partners to bring awareness to those living with autism to build nurturing and supportive communities. April was declared Autism Awareness Month in the city of Houston. A special thank you to Council Member Amy Peck for bringing forth a proclamation. The proclamation will help bring further awareness to autism, fostering collaborative efforts on initiatives, programs and policy. This is a phenomenal step to enhance the lives of those on the spectrum.
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, Council Member Pollard joined City Council Member Amy Peck to support Social Motion Skills. During the family-friendly event, attendees celebrated the phenomenal accomplishments of the Autism community with various activities including a book signing and meet and greet with eco-artist and illustrator Jigsaw Grant, and food distribution sponsored by HBU Food Bank. A very special thank you to all of those who dedicated their efforts to make a huge impact.

Denouncing Hatred

In order to build safe and inclusive communities, uniting our communities is vital to our overall societal success. Council Member Pollard published an op-ed in Voice of Asia to express heartful concern and denouncement of harassment and attacks against Asian Americans across the country. 

Job Readiness Fair

For many Houstonians, unemployment and underemployment are concerning realities. To address these issues, the District J office partnered with the Office of Business Opportunity and Workforce Solutions, to host the Turnaround Houston Job & Readiness Fair. During the event, attendees received resume writing assistance, interviewing tips and other job preparedness information. Dozens of employers and hundreds of job seekers had the opportunity to connect. The District J team will be organizing future job fair events, so stay tuned for upcoming announcements.

Laptop Donations

The lack of access to technology is often a formidable obstacle for those living in underserved communities. The District J office has partnered with Arvo Realty Advisors and Sistership to meet this need by donating new HP laptops to deserving programs and nonprofits in District J and the Houston area. HP laptop donations for partners and their initiatives included:
  • Deric Muhammad’s Black Male Summit Program
  • Pure Justice to help continue their impactful work around social issues
  • Loud Musik internship focusing on entrepreneurship and the music industry
Collaborative partnerships like these within the public and private sectors are essential to expand impact, resources and engagement. A special thank you to Ed Ryland and Tiffany Ryland, Judson Robinson, Deloyd Parker, Alvin D. Byrd, Roshawn Evans and Derrick McKinney for their support in this significant and worthwhile effort.

Congratulations to the TSU Basketball Team

The Texas Southern University men’s basketball team has had an outstanding season. Council Member Pollard, along with Council Member Carolyn Evans Shabazz, presented Certificates of Recognition to the team in recognition of their conference tournament win, earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The athletes gained national attention for their performance and represented the city of Houston well.

Expanding Access to Medical Supplies

When it comes to medical supplies, quantity and quality are essential to prevent disease and adequately provide health services. District J has collaborated with Medical Bridges Inc. to help underserved communities access the equipment they need within the city of Houston. Medical Bridges Inc. is one of the leading organizations for providing surplus medical supplies worldwide. 

Safer Roads, Safer Communities

Making our roads safer is an ongoing effort. As part of the Mayor’s Complete Communities Initiative, Hillcroft Avenue, between Bellaire and Gulfton, now has a video-based near-miss analysis for scoping, planning and assessment. As this area is one of the most densely populated areas in the city, this project supports a creative and innovative commitment in our approach to designing streets that meet the unique dynamics of District J. Council Member Pollard and Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Together for Safer Roads, Houston Public Works, the Houston Planning Department, the Southwest Redevelopment Authority/TIRZ 20 and other partners for the groundbreaking.

Resources Allocated for My Brother’s Keeper

During the City Council session, members voted to allocate additional funds to the My Brother’s Keeper program. Launched by President Obama, the program focuses on supporting boys and young men of color to help them overcome and succeed in the face of a lack of opportunities. Additionally, there are plans for continued partnerships with national nonprofits, such as the Social Justice Learning Institute, as well as local organizations and programs that work to positively engage and encourage our young men to reach their highest potential.

Improving Lives in District J

The District J office met with leadership of the Universal Church and HPD Commander Lopez. During the meeting, they discussed ways to partner on programs and initiatives that would positively impact the lives of people in District J.

Rent Assistance

During these times due to the pandemic, some are unable to pay their back rent and utilities. The District J office, along with various organizations, offered a free drive-through event in Gulfton to provide guidance to those needing assistance with the declaration form for the CDC eviction moratorium. Facilitators were onsite to assist attendees with applying for renewal assistance and legal aid programs. Local attorneys were available to advise eviction protection eligibility. Many thanks to the organizations and attorneys supported this endeavor.

Ramadan Iftar Food and Water Distribution

Council Member Pollard joined Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee and Judge Israel B Garcia Jr. for the Ramadan Iftar Food and Water distribution. During the event, volunteers helped provide over 400 hot meals to those in need at Al-Noor Society of Greater Houston. A very special thank you to Shapnik Khan for organizing this wonderful effort and for the invitation to participate.

Free Diaper Distribution

The pandemic has caused many Houston families to endure hardships, including getting access to necessary supplies. To help ease these concerns, the District J office hosted a free diaper distribution at Benavidez Elementary School in partnership with the Texas Diaper Bank, Gulfton Citizen’s Advisory Council and Bee Busy Wellness. Staff from the Texas Diaper Bank travelled from San Antonio in inclement weather to provide over $25,000 of diapers and baby supplies to more than 800 families. Many thanks to the dedicated efforts of all of the organizations involved as well as the District J staff. 

New Bank in District J

Having access to banking options in a highly populated minority area is essential for building and sustaining strong communities. The State Bank of Texas has chosen District J as their first branch in Houston. Located near Gessner and 59, this bank is a great tool to help boost financial empowerment for the community. Council Member Pollard joined Mayor Sylvester Turner for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Clean Up at Burnett Bayland Park

Parks are a huge part of our communities and keeping them clean is a community effort. In partnership with Keep Houston Beautiful, the District J office participated in a community clean up at Burnett Bayland Park in Gulfton. During the day, volunteers planted gardens, picked up trash and surrounding debris. A very special thank you to the volunteers and organizations that made this day a huge success.

Anderson Park Community Meeting

From promoting public health to supporting the green infrastructure of neighborhoods, parks are a vital aspect of our communities. Residents of the St. George area of District J met to discuss the future of Anderson Park during a virtual community meeting.

Students to Receive Free Laptops

Students attending the Fondren Middle School who are enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Magnet Program for the 2021-2022 school year will receive complimentary laptops. Additionally, the students will receive 24-hour free Internet and technology support. This remarkable initiative is part of the magnet program partnership with Verizon Innovative Learning School. For more information visit Fondren International Baccalaureate Magnet Program.