City Council looks at ways to continue improving El Paso Police Department

Community

Officials said they're listening to resident's concerns and are looking for ways to continue improving the department.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — As the national movement for police reform continues, El Paso city leaders said they want to build on the progress they say the El Paso Police Department has made over the years.

Officials said they’re listening to resident’s concerns and are looking for ways to continue improving the department.

City leaders also pointed out that El Paso is the 5th safest large city in the nation, and acknowledged the work our local law enforcement has done in years past.

“We are listening, we are hearing what the concerns are, and regardless of where we are in El Paso as a community, can we get better? Absolutely we can,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez shared.

Staff with the City Manager’s office provided an updated presentation to council during a special meeting on Monday which detailed an outline of funding that’s been approved for public safety, as well as focused training and continuous improvement.

This includes the additional $52 million in investments since fiscal year 2015 to reinforce public safety, which went towards staffing, vehicles, and capital purposes.

“In the augmentation on how we grow the police department, or augment the police department, we augment with CIT, body cameras, more surveys to the public in terms of interactions, it’s those kinds of things that I think will address not only council’s concerns but the community’s concerns,” Gonzalez shared.

Last year, El Paso voters approved the Public Safety Bond which allocated $221.9 million for EPPD. Gonzalez said rather than defund EPPD, the City wants to focus on “augmenting.”

“In the augmentation on how we grow the police department, or augment the police department, we augment with CIT, body cameras, more surveys to the public in terms of interactions, it’s those kinds of things that I think will address not only council’s concerns but the community’s concerns,” Gonzalez explained.

“I think it’s important that people also know that in our strategic planning is community based policing policies. That was work that you did, that was work that the council did, and it’s important that we’re telling people these things,” Rep. Alexsandra Annello added.

Some other continuous improvements is looking at focused training; specifically Police Citizens Academy, Use of Force, Defense Tactics, and De-Escalation training.

As the City continues to work on local police reform, Gonzalez also reiterated the contributions made by local officers to the community.

“We want to follow the data. We absolutely want to improve, but I’m not going to bash my people when they’re doing a good job,” Gonzalez, “But if at the same time our folks are not doing a good job, I’ll be the first one to say we need to improve and I’ll be the first to hold them accountable. Just like they hold me accountable and they should.”

City Rep. Sam Morgan added a proposed resolution on council’s regular meeting agenda on Tuesday, called the “El Paso Strong” resolution. It seeks to encourage eliminating racism and improving law enforcement facilities.

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