High school students in Texas will soon be required to take a police interaction course as part of the Community Safety Act passed during the 2017 legislative session.
Officers and representatives from local law enforcement agencies will teach students how to safely interact with police officers during traffic stops. Texas school districts received an official instructor’s guide, as well as a 16-minute educational video designed to instruct the right and wrong ways to handle dealing with law enforcement.
The video features re-enactments and is broken up into four sections: The role of law enforcement, citizen’s rights, proper behavior, and how to file a complaint.
Sen. Royce West, D., who authored the new legislation, said the goal of the video and the Community Safety Act is to "define" behavioral expectations of citizens and officers during traffic stops.
"This content is designed specifically to make certain that the trust factor between law enforcement and citizens is stronger than ever,” West said in the educational video.
The course will begin next fall with the current freshman class. According to the Texas Board of Education, the course is mandatory for students to graduate.
Thomas Colvin, a Clovis police officer, agreed that the bill was a good idea.
“I think what they are doing in Texas is a great thing. While in training, I learned that traffic stops can be one of the most deadly situations we encounter as law enforcement, and from my experience, I have ran into a lot of people, young and old, who do not know what to do on a traffic stop, from not knowing what information they need to have with them when they are driving to reaching for things out of sight.
“A well-trained officer should be able to answer any questions the person being stopped has, but the general public having a healthy knowledge of what it is we are going to ask for and what to expect will make our job a bit easier and make the Interaction a bit less stressful for everyone involved,” he added.
Getting a similar bill passed in New Mexico could spin a more positive image for law enforcement, said Colvin.
“I also believe that the general public gaining an understanding of the procedures of a traffic stop will decrease some of the stigma associated with law enforcement. Officers aren't “out to get" people but to uphold statutes, ordinances, and to keep everyone safe. The more everyone knows, the better off we will all be,” he said.