In an effort to combat violence to and by Texas law enforcement officers, some state senators think they should be nicer.
Members of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice described less than pleasant encounters with law enforcement at a hearing Tuesday.
Senator José Menéndez said, “I had an officer with their hand on their gun look at me and say ‘is this your car?’”
More than a few Texas senators criticized the accusatory tone in which officers speak as “rude” and “disrespectful.”
Some senators suggested a more friendly approach could help prevent routine stops from escalating to a more serious situation.
Senator Joan Huffman said she’s been “treated rudely by a DPS Trooper, too.” The Houston Republican said those kinds of encounters happen to “everybody.”
The President of the NCAAP in Houston said it happens to some much more often than others. “We have a race problem—it’s either racism or implicit racism. Police need training,” said Dr. James Douglas said police need training.
The Executive Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw said, “If you don’t treat people with respect you get nothing, it’s unproductive to be rude.”
McCraw said DPS plans to make it easier for people to file a complaint against a trooper. The state’s chief law enforcement agency will soon include the information on how to file a complaint right on the back of the citation the trooper hands out.
Senator John Whitmire questioned, “How have we allowed things to become so confrontational, without walking in your brother’s shoes?”
The Democrat from Houston said he plans to introduce legislation that would require Texas schools to teach kids how to behave during a traffic stop.
Senator Royce West added, “Not only what you should do, but what your rights are.”
While law enforcement and lawmakers praised an education program for public schools, Sen. Huffman raised concerns about creating an unfunded mandate.