Police interactions have become increasingly tense in recent years. A series of high profile incidents in which officers have killed suspects, has led to tension between police officers and minorities.
In Texas, the case of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was put in a cell after a police stop for a traffic infraction went awry made national headlines. Bland never made it out of the cell where investigators say she took her own life.
A new law that went into effect in September will mandate high school students, new drivers, and police on how to act during police interactions.
Although the legislation was passed in 2017, the courses are unlikely to start until September 2018, because the content is still being developed, noted the Texas Tribune.
The Tribune noted Senate Bill 30 was discussed by Texas lawmakers to address a growing rift between police and communities after a string of fatal police encounters.
Sandra Bland was found hanged in her cell just three days after a heated traffic stop resulted in her arrest. The bill also followed the fatal shooting last year of five police officers in Dallas.
Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas authored the bill. He noted growing tension between police officers and citizens during traffic stops.
West said he hopes some of that friction will be relieved by teaching the different groups what is expected of citizens and police during interactions, primarily traffic stops.
Although Bland’s death led to legislation that would have curbed the powers of police during traffic stops, these measures were culled from the final legislation.
From September, the public high school curriculum in Texas, driver’s ed classes and training for existing and new police officers must include instructions on the duties and role in society of police officers.
Issues such as the rights of the individual during a police interaction, the correct behavior between citizens and cops, the laws relating to questioning and detention by police and how to file a complaint, will be covered,
Suggested actions are put forward by the Texas Department of Public in its latest version of the Texas Driver Handbook, released in the fall.
The book suggests drivers should keep their hands close to the steering wheel and never reach into the glove box for documents until asked to do so by an officer.
A section has been added to the publication that explains drivers can ask to leave if they are detained at a traffic stop for an extended period of time. They can decline search requests in the absence of a probable cause.
In Texas, suspects are often the victims of improper police procedure. This can render evidence collected inadmissible in court.
If you have been accused of an offense in Texas, call our experienced criminal defense lawyers today at (512) 474-4445.