Citizens and Police Would be Required to Complete Courses on Police-Citizen Interactions

Relations between Texans and the police officers who serve and protect them would go to a new level if a bipartisan bill backed by key Legislative leaders like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick continues to gain traction, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The measure would require that courses in police-community relations be added to several programs.

Students in drives ed and in ninth grade would be taught how to react in an encounter with police.  

State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) says the courses would not just include high pressure confrontational situations, but every day situations were police deal with police officers.

"A situation  where your wife or your spouse is stopped," West said.  "They are alone in the car in a rural area and the lights come on.  Should they stop, or should they go to a well lit area where citizens are."

State Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) says this would be a very good way to keep young drivers, and adults, up to date on new police practices, involving things like body cameras, weapons searches, whether police have the right to look into your car, and how the motorist should react during a police stop.

"Even in my lifetime as a driver, the rules of the game have changed," Whitmire said.  "I remember when it was standard for the driver to be asked to get out of the car during a traffic stop.  Now they ask you to stay in the car."

The law goes one step further, and requires police officers to take and successfully complete a course on 'civilian interaction' as a condition of becoming licensed as a police officer, and to maintain that license.

That course would teach officers about 'a person's rights concerning interactions with peace officers,' 'laws regarding questioning and detention by peace officers, including any law requiring a person to present proof of identity to a peace officer, and the consequences for a person or an officr's failure to comply with these laws.'

The officer would also have to demonstrate proficiency in 'the role of law enforcemnt and the duties and responsibilities of peace officers' as well as 'how and where to file a complaint against or compliment on behalf of a peace officer.'

Much of this new law stems from the case of Sandra Bland.  The Chicago area woman got into a violent roadside confrontation with a Texas State Trooper in the summerof 2015 when she was pulled over for failing to signal.  Bland later killed herself in the Waller County Jail.

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