Capitol Update: Emerging Issue in Texas Law Enforcement
Recently, people across our free land commemorated the lives of those who fell victim to the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001. Though it seems like just yesterday for many of us, this year marked the 15th Anniversary of the falling of the Twin Towers in New York City, the plane which went down near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and another that crashed into the Pentagon. All told, nearly 3,000 Americans lost their lives that day, and many other police officers, firefighters, and innocent bystanders risked their own to save countless others. Lest we forget those brave men and women, let us take a moment to update you on the policies being studied in Austin to help some of those first responders . . .
House Interim Charge: Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement
As with nearly all other groups we’ve discussed in our look at interim charges, law enforcement must adapt to the evolving technologies which become more accessible to them each day. As a state, we must provide assistance to our local authorities for many up and coming tools, including body cameras. These cameras are important both for our police officers, as well as our citizens. Last session a bill was passed to set some minimum standards for storing this data, providing video footage under the Public Information Act, or when using as evidence in a court room. This interim we’re studying whether those standards should be expanded, reigned in, or left intact.
In addition to new hardware available to law enforcement, software is becoming more advanced, and the ability for different levels of law enforcement to share information is important when it comes to tracking and catching criminals. Along with these information collecting and sorting systems (which can connect the federal, state, and local agencies) comes the need to protect secrecy, while also providing the public with needed transparency. The House has been studying the requirements the state must put forth to ensure we strike the right balance.
Although technology does play a large part, we all know that the critically important part of the men and women who police our state is just that – the men and women. The Legislature will take a deep dive into ensuring that our officers have a sufficient amount of appropriations to maximize their opportunity for training in the new threats presented in our ever changing world. With the ultimate goal being to increase public safety for all Texans, there is no excuse for not providing these brave officers with the necessary training and tools to perform their job.
The mobile office is on the road for the remainder of September, and looks forward to seeing you around our district! Here’s our schedule moving forward: September 21st, 9-11am – Houston County Courthouse Annex, and 1:30-3:30pm – Trinity County Courthouse; September 28th, 9-11am – San Augustine County Courthouse.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.