Interactions between teens and other citizens and police in recent years have led to standoffs and, in some cases, tragedies. Now high schoolers, new drivers and teens will receive training in police interactions.
Senate Bill 30 was pitched to Texas lawmakers amid heightened tensions between police and citizens. In Texas, the death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African American woman in a police cell three days after a traffic infraction with a state trooper escalated into an arrest, was a catalyst for the new law.
The legislation giving training in interactions came into effect in September 2017. However, officials have only just started creating the courses and they are scheduled to begin next September.
Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas authored the bill. He told the Texas Tribune there are a lot of tensions between police and citizens and traffic stops are often the source. He said:
“We’ve seen some fatalities and we’ve seen people pointing the finger at one another.”
West is hopeful some of the tension in those interactions will be relieved by the course which will teach the disparate groups what is expected of police and citizens during interactions, primarily traffic stops.
From September, instructions on the role and duties of police officers, the rights of people during police interactions, laws on questioning and detention of suspects will be included in Texas’ public high school curriculum, driver’s ed classes and training for new and long-serving police officers.
Citizens and the police will also learn how to file a complaint or even a compliment.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has already updated the Texas Driver Handbook to include a section of advice on what to do during traffic stops.
If you are stopped by a police officer for a traffic infraction or a suspected DWI you should keep your hands near the steering wheel and not reach into the glove box for items like your driver’s license or proof of insurance until asked to do so by the officer.
The book has a new section that explains how drivers can ask to leave if they’re held at a traffic stop for an extended time. They can decline search requests if there is no probable cause.
Traffic stops are very stressful occasions for officers and citizens alike. These courses may help smooth the process. If you fear your rights have been infringed, please call our Fort Worth DWI defense lawyers.