As Texas has seen, there is a lot to learn about how police interact with citizens in their state.
This article is an excerpt from the Texas Law Enforcement Officers Association (TLOAA) report, “How Police Officers Treat Texas Citizens,” which was released earlier this month.
The report, based on data from 2015 to 2020, examined law enforcement interactions with people in Texas, the first year the data was available.
TLOAA President John G. Bocarsly said the group has been collecting and analyzing the data since the 1980s.
“The first time we started gathering the data, it was as a response to the death of Rodney King,” Bocarly said.
“We started looking at how police interacted with the public in Texas.
We wanted to see how the people in the community reacted to police.”
The report found that, while police officers were generally perceived to be respectful and cooperative, interactions with the population varied greatly depending on how the person viewed the police officer.
“If you’re in the middle of a busy street, you might have to take the time to explain yourself to the officer,” Bicarsly explained.
“But if the officer is on a busy road or in a congested area, you have to ask to see identification.”
Police officers are sometimes given discretion to issue citations for things like running an unsafe stop or parking in a marked spot, which could create tensions.
For instance, Bocsly said that one officer who pulled over a driver for speeding had to explain to the driver why he was speeding because he was told he had to go to the hospital.
Another officer in another state stopped a driver because he had a broken taillight and said he had no license plate.
Officers also may be instructed to pull over someone if they feel there is no crime or traffic, Bicarly noted.
This is the same procedure police in other states are instructed to use, he added.
TLOA members reported that officers in Texas often did not give the same amount of information that officers did in other jurisdictions, especially if they were unfamiliar with the community.
“Officers often responded to people as if they didn’t know them, which often led to interactions that could not be explained to the person,” Bacarsly noted in the report.
“This led to people not understanding that officers could pull them over, and this contributed to a culture of distrust between officers and the community.”
A report published by the Texas Public Policy Foundation found that police officers in Austin were twice as likely to be arrested on suspicion of a traffic offense and twice as often to be cited for a traffic violation as those in other cities.
The Texas Association of Chiefs of Police, which is a nonprofit group of police officers, found that in 2016, the number of traffic stops and citations made by officers in the Lone Star State was almost six times higher than in cities across the country.
TLOCA’s Boccsly said he is concerned that a more restrictive law enforcement approach to interactions with Texas residents is likely to hurt the people who encounter police officers.
“In a way, it’s really unfortunate that a law enforcement agency is getting to this point, that we’re all going to have to pay a price in the long run for how we treat people,” BOCsly added.
“What we want to see is more and more policing where people don’t just get to know the police officers and see how they interact with the communities, but also understand the culture.”
Txotraps to investigate allegations of misconduct, misconduct by cops and misconduct by police officers Texas is not the only state where there have been serious allegations of police misconduct.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has called on the state to investigate complaints about police misconduct and for the Department of Public Safety to suspend its practice of releasing police department misconduct data.
The organization is asking Texas lawmakers to establish a task force to address police misconduct, including the need for transparency and accountability.
“Texas has been a leader in policing reform and reform of our police,” said David Cole, the state’s former chief of police.
“There has been no need for the state of Texas to step back, and we will not rest until the public knows what’s going on in our police departments.”
Cole has said he will be retiring as Texas’s chief of staff and will be the state attorney general in 2021.
The Dallas Morning News reported last week that the Dallas Police Department had been placed on a six-year, $1.5 billion “investigation and remediation” plan that will include a review of all internal affairs cases and disciplinary actions, as well as an independent review of the city’s internal policies and procedures.
The city also said it will begin conducting an internal review of its procedures, and it will conduct an independent audit of its department.