TX Debate: Should Schools Teach How to Deal With Police?

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Texas’ top criminal justice lawmakers are considering sending community leaders into public schools to teach ninth graders how to interact with police. They tout the proposal as a way to increase public safety, but critics question whether such instruction would be effective, reports the Texas Tribune. Sen. John Whitmire has proposed a bill that would teach ninth graders about the rights, responsibilities and “proper behavior” of civilians and law enforcement when the two interact. “You should not escalate things. If you have a disagreement with the officer, go to Internal Affairs. How many people know how to do that?” said Whitmire, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. “If people understand where the other parties are coming from — I think that students ought to learn that officers are scared too.”

Another Senator, Royce West, wants students to attend the lessons as a condition of graduating and to include similar material in the state driver’s exam. The legislation follows years of deadly encounters between law enforcement and civilians nationwide — including Sandra Bland, an Illinois woman arrested after a traffic stop whose videotaped argument with an officer became national news after she was found dead in her jail cell three days later. This kind of instruction is not the state’s business, said Margaret Haule of the Black Lives Matter Austin chapter. “The State Board of Education needs to focus on education, not police encounters,” she said. “That’s already covered in driver’s ed.”


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