A 2020 report from the Kinder Institute for Urban Research found that most of Texas’ oversight bodies were underfunded. That has had serious effects on their effectiveness, the Texas Observer reports. One example is Austin, where in 2018, a civilian committee was formed as part of a hard-won bipartisan agreement on police accountability. After a dispute involving how police treated loiterers based on race censured the office for overreach, advocates think the office’s ability to check police power has been undermined.
Similarly, Houston’s oversight board was named one of the weakest in the state, and officials have announced restructuring plans to give the board more power. “What’s worse than no oversight agency is an agency that’s just window dressing,” said Stephen Sherman, a fellow at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.