DISTRICT F

Candidates responding: Adekunle Kay Elegbede, John Nguyen, Jesus Zachary Zamora

Municipal Court Fines & Fees, Community Service

The Houston City Council and Mayor sets policy for the municipal courts in Houston. These courts hear only Class C Misdemeanors - including such common offenses as minor traffic offenses, public intoxication, and violating other municipal ordinances.


As a City Councilmember, would you eliminate the practice of jailing people just for failure to pay fines and fees to the municipal court, if they are indigent?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Would you make one of the performance review issues for municipal judges their treatment of citizens who lack the ability to pay fines? For instance, the decision on whether to rehire municipal judges could include a review of whether they are jailing people for fines and fees related to Class C Misdemeanors or whether they are appropriately waiving fines or converting them into community service when people cannot afford to pay them.


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: I will look at their record on this issue but that cannot be the only basis of re hiring judges.

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Would you end or reform the Omnibase program, which is a city contract that allows the municipal court to put a hold on people renewing their drivers’ licenses if they have not paid City of Houston Municipal Court fines or fees?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Reform is always good. This will allow us to know what hardship anyone who cannot pay their court fines is going through. If they cannot renew their drivers license which may be connected to their employment, how should they earn money to pay their court fines?

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes, I would mend the program in working with the person on reviewing financial status and possibly setting up payment plans and giving them a certain amount of time to pay the fees off to avoid the license being temporarily suspended.


More than 68,000 warrants for failure to appear and 23,000 warrants for failure to pay were issued by the Houston Municipal Court last year. Would you support reducing warrants for the arrest of people charged with Class C Misdemeanors who fail to appear in court or fail to pay a fine?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Citizens must appear in court when they are supposed to. I will take this on a case by case basis and may not want to impose a one size fits all solution to this problem.

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Decriminalizing Homelessness

Most Texas cities currently criminalize people for activities they cannot control when they are homeless. For instance, the City of Houston has a "No Camping" ordinance, but no provision of what people can do if they are homeless. Other such offenses include No Sitting or No Lying in a public walkway.


Would you vote to decriminalize the daily activities of people experiencing homelessness?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes, During my campaign I have strongly voiced that Houston needs to adopt the measure of employing our homeless and give them benefits to be able to afford proper housing.


Cite and Release Policies

Texas state law allows local police departments to develop policies under which police may issue a citation instead of arresting someone for certain Class B and Class A Misdemeanors. Such "cite and release" eligible offenses include Driving with an Invalid License, Possession of Marijuana, and Theft (between $100 and $750). However, most city police departments lack policies that empower officers to use cite and release on a regular basis, and therefore, jails are filled with people who were booked in on these low-level, nonviolent offenses.


Will you ask the Houston Police Department to implement a broad cite and release policy?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes, We see with the Current DA for Harris County even a lack of this.


De-Escalation and Use of Force by the Police Department

Other government agencies control many aspects of criminal justice, but the Houston City Council has the most direct control over policing by the Houston Police Department.


Will you demand that the Houston Police Department make their “Use of Force” policies public?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to limit the use of choke holds and strangleholds to situations where deadly force is authorized?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to require officers to give a verbal warning, when possible, before using force, especially deadly force?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Will you advocate that HPD revise its use of force policies to restrict shooting at moving vehicles unless the occupants of the vehicle are using deadly force?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to require that officers exhaust all other means before shooting?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to require officers to intervene and stop another officer from using excessive force?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes, We have seen time after time that one officer believes he or she has too much power and situations become dangerous.


Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to require officers to report all uses of force including threatening a civilian with a firearm?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes, Body Cameras needs to be pushed heavily.


Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to require de-escalation of potentially fraught situations?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to provide specific guidelines for when certain levels of force are authorized?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes

Will you work with the Houston Police Department to implement training in de-escalation techniques for all officers?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Will you commit to asking the Houston Police Department to develop a policy to release body worn camera video of critical incidents?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes, Body Camera need to be worn at all times


Informing people of their rights post SB 4

SB 4 makes it illegal to instruct law enforcement not to cooperate with ICE.


Will you implement a policy so that before police ask about the immigration status of anyone they have lawfully detained, they inform such persons of their right to remain silent?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)

Several cities across the country have begun using LEAD programs to avoid arresting people for offenses including prostitution, drug possession, and mental health issues. LEAD programs allow law enforcement officers to connect people directly to the services they need instead of arresting them.


Will you work with the Houston Police Department to implement a LEAD program?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Police Accountability

The Houston Police union contract will be renegotiated in 2020.


Will you negotiate a new police union contract in 2020 that will end the mandatory waiting period before an interview begins in the instances of potential police misconduct?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Will you negotiate a new police union contract that will eliminate technical reasons for dismissing complaints, such as limited timeframes to report complaints and other issues like this?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Will you negotiate a new police union contract that will eliminate the practice of giving officers unfair access to information about complaints? For instance, in Houston, the current police union contract entitles officers to see witness statements *before interrogation*, a benefit that no ordinary defendant gets.


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Will you negotiate a new police union contract in 2020 that will ensure that there is full civilian oversight over the police department and disciplinary procedures?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Will you negotiate a new police union contract that will ensure that misconduct is not erased from police records?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Yes

John Nguyen: Yes

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Yes


Tell us about your law enforcement and criminal justice priorities.

Of the issues listed above, what would be your top priority to work on? Why?


Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Police relations with the public especially the minority community is endemic. We need to work on improving relations and it is most crucial and urgent.

John Nguyen: Stop misconduct from being removed from records. This conveys mistrust to the people.

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Negotiating to make sure no misconduct is erased in police records and addressing to make sure there is a committee of civilians that is always monitoring any misconduct complaints.

Are there any additional important issues of law enforcement and criminal justice that you want to push? Why? Please talk about specific policy changes you would seek.

Adekunle Kay Elegbede: Most of the areas of concern have been covered by the questionnaire and answers provided for them. Thank you.

John Nguyen: None.

Jesus Zachary Zamora: Having body cameras during all instances whether it be a traffic stop or anything for that matter. Many instances go undocumented or unnoticed and negotiating that with the police union for the upcoming 2020 contract renewal will be one of my main focuses.

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