The Texas Department of Public Safety and Austin Police Department will begin including information about how drivers can file complaints against officers on the citations they issue, one quick result from ongoing legislative efforts to improve relations between police and communities.
DPS Executive Director Steve McCraw and Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo agreed during a state Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing on Tuesday to provide that information on the back of citations, as lawmakers brainstorm ways to make drivers' rights and avenues for recourse more clear.
Legislators and members of the public also discussed proposals that would require Texas schools to teach students how to act when stopped by law enforcement and change drivers' handbook guidelines for when officers pull over motorists. The proposed changes come after several high-profile fatal encounters between police and civilians, particularly among unarmed black men and women.
McCraw said he'd like to make the changes immediately but has to go through a process. Acevedo said the change would take a few weeks but that in the meantime the department will hand out brochures about encountering officers.
Read more of our coverage of the Texas justice system:
To Help Rehabilitate Juveniles, Texas Keeping Them Closer to Home – More than a year after state lawmakers told it to stop incarcerating so many teenagers, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department has diverted 52 juvenile offenders for rehabilitation instead of shipping them to state lockups.
Sandra Bland's Family Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit – The fight began on July 10, 2015, when former Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia stopped Bland, a 28-year-old woman from Illinois, near the Prairie View A&M University campus for failing to properly signal a lane change. After a heated argument, the trooper arrested Bland for assaulting a public servant. Three days later, she was found hanged in her cell at Waller County Jail. Her death was ruled a suicide.
Seeing a Threat, Police Will Shoot an Unarmed Individual – Public outcries over shootings of unarmed people are often especially pronounced, underpinned with the inference that police should seldom find it necessary to unleash lethal force on unarmed civilians. But police note that the lack of a weapon does not render some individuals any less dangerous.