Texas

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Click a "Get Template" button to get an email template about a specific issue. Edit the template to connect on a more personal level with your lawmaker. See the Contacting Logistics page for information about how to write an effective email to your lawmakers. Get your lawmakers' emails with the search box to the right. Send the email!

Be sure to check out the Next Steps at the bottom of the page. Go to the References/Further Reading page to see our sources and do some research of your own.

Last updated March 5, 2020

Summary

Key:

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Legislation Achieved

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Some Progress

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No Progress

Demilitarization

Learn about demilitarization and the specific issues below on the Demilitarization page (opens in a new window).

 

No knock warrants

No Progress:

Texas has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants. Some police departments in the state have suspended the use of no-knock warrants, including Houston. However, many departments in Texas still use no-knock warrants.

Pending Legislation: SB. 175, introduced in January 2021, would ban judges from issuing no-knock warrants to law enforcement officers.

1033 purchases

No Progress:

Texas has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments. In fact, as of March 2016, Texas agencies have been the second largest beneficiary of the 1033 program, receiving $124.91 million in value across 19,586 disbursements.

Military style training

No Progress:

Texas has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage.The Austin Police Department and the Irving Police Department have both participated in the Blue Courage training programs, but the vast majority of Texas police departments still use military style training.

SWAT data

No Progress:

Texas has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.

Pending Legislation: HB 579, introduced in Novemeber 2020, requires that "any law enforcement agency administering a SWAT team shall annually report information about team deployments and training to the agency's local governing body."

For Profit Policing

Learn about for profit policing and the specific issues below on the For Profit Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Civil asset forfeiture

No Progress:

Texas has not yet enacted a law ending civil asset forfeiture. Texas’ civil asset forfeiture laws are rated among the worst in the nation, receiving a grade of D+ in a report by the Institute for Justice (IJ), a legal reform group.

Pending Legislation: HB 251, introduced in November 2020, would require a criminal conviction for asset forfeiture

Quotas

Some Progress:

The Texas Penal Code states that departments, "may not establish or maintain, formally or informally, a plan to evaluate, promote, compensate, or discipline" based on the number of tickets officers issue. However, local reports suggest that police departments continue to use quota systems.

Cost of misconduct

No Progress:

Texas has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.

Broken Windows Policing

Learn about broken windows policing and the specific issues below on the Broken Windows Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Minor offenses

Some Progress:

Texas prison reform in the last few years has led to the decline n incarceration of low-level drug offenders. While this is not directly connected to the police, it could disincentivize Texas police from charging people for these low crimes. The Texas city of San Marcus is first city to use cite-and-release, where low-level crimes are receiving tickets instead of arrests. Notably, The Dallas district attorney is not prosecuting minor crimes, which could could dissuade police from making the arrests. This 2019 decision was criticized by police, however. Part of his plan included a decision not to prosecute thefts of personal items under $750 that are stolen out of necessity.

Pending Legislation: HB 274, introduced in December 2020, limits the ability of officers to arrest those whose offense is technically only punishable by fine.

Objective justification for stops

Some Progress:

As far back as 1974, the TCCA has held that “furtive gestures” alone are not a “sufficient basis for probable cause;” officers must identify additional evidence beyond those gestures. However, the state lacks an expansive explanation for an objective justification of a stop. Each stop is based on reasonable suspicion, which is subjective.

Reporting stop details

No Progress:

Texas has not yet enacted a law requiring comprehensive reporting of police stops (noting location, race, gender, whether force was used and whether a firearm was found).

Accountability

Learn about accountability and the specific issues below on the Accountability page (opens in a new window).

 

Reckless civil rights violation

No Progress:

Texas has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.

Independent investigation

No Progress:

Texas has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct.

Pending Legislation: HB 715, introduced in January 2021, requires the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor in cases of officer-involved serious bodily injury or death.

Qualified immunity

No Progress:

Texas has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.

Reinvesting in Communities

Learn about reinvesting in communities and the specific issues below on the Reinvesting in Communities page (opens in a new window).

 

Mental health response

No Progress:

Texas has not yet enacted a law creating and funding a mental health task force available to respond to crisis calls (in lieu of police). Locally, since 2005, San Antonio cops have participated in Crisis Intervention Training programs for all cadets, and in 2008 developed a mental health unit specifically for crisis calls. The efforts and success of this team are detailed in the HBO Documentary Ernie & Joe.

Education, Housing, Community Health Resources

No Progress:

It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.

Next Steps

No matter what, register to vote:

Contacting officials is just one piece of the puzzle we can't stop there. We need to make sure our elected officials reflect our values and support reform at every level of government. Register here:

To keep these policies at the forefront:

Keep emailing about them (if you just finished the 5 Days Challenge, keep up the schedule—set reminders in your phone to email about each issue on its specific day).

To ask for more than this:

Use our templates as a model to ask for bigger changes. Color for Change and The Movement for Black Lives both have specific policy related to a reimagined law enforcement system. If you think there are additional policies we ought to consider, send your thoughts our way.

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