The Texas House preliminarily approved a Senate bill that would require all high school students, future drivers and police officers in the state to learn how to interact with each other.
Senate Bill 30, sponsored in the House by Houston Democratic Reps. Senfronia Thompson and Garnet Coleman, would require the groups to learn about the duties of law enforcement officers, civilians' rights and proper behavior during interactions. They would receive lessons about laws for questioning and arresting civilians, complying with officers' orders and how to file complaints (or compliments) about law enforcement.
Thompson amended the bill to create a task force that would study the impact of police-civilian interaction education and require police to be trained on de-escalation techniques. The bill must get final approval in the House before being sent back to the Senate.
The legislation follows deadly encounters between law enforcement and civilians seen in recent years throughout the country. In Texas, it comes after the high-profile case of Sandra Bland, an Illinois woman who was stopped for a traffic violation before the conversation between her and the officer turned combative and led to her arrest. She was found dead in the Waller County jail three days after her arrest.
In 2016, Dallas police officers were ambushed after a downtown protest, leaving five dead and more injured. The Dallas protest was one of several around the country in response to the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota following encounters with police.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/05/19/police-lessons-house-vote/.
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