Texas Police Shootings Law, Missing Reports Prompt Review
Feb 27, 2017 11:38 AM EST
Texas police shootings law that requires agencies law enforcement agencies to provide information about officer-involved shootings to the state will soon also become the first to mete out punishment to those that don't. The state lawmaker behind the 2015 law, State Rep. Eric Johnson, says he's pushing to "put some teeth" into the statute.
Texas is one of seven states that requires law enforcement agencies to provide information about the shootings in a one-page report emailed to the state attorney general's office within 30 days. However, the Texas police shootings law, sponsored by Johnson, hasn't implemented a proper enforcement or tracking mechanisms, according to the US News.
Johnson is reiterating the statute after learning that up to a dozen fatal shootings hadn't been reported since the Texas police shootings law went into effect in 2015. He said most departments are "doing a pretty good job" but voluntary compliance hasn't been enough.
One bill introduced by Johnson would make it so any law enforcement agency that fails to submit a report is ineligible to receive criminal justice grant money from the governor's office for a year. Legal experts and researchers support the bill under the Texas police shootings law, as they believe a lack of consequences for failing to report or a mechanism for tracking missing reports can lead to incomplete information and a lack of accountability.
The Texas Municipal Police Association also supports the bill. "We recognize the collection of data is probably in most cases helpful to law enforcement not hurtful," said Kevin Lawrence, the group's executive director.
A second bill for the Texas police shooting law by Johnson would create a website where agencies could submit required information. Agencies currently email their reports to the attorney general's office and the office posts them on its website as PDFs, accessed by the public.
Johnson pointed out that the states don't have a way to track whether shootings are being reported under the Texas police shooting law, according to ABC News. He praised the media and the public's efforts to track down missing cases but said the responsibility is not solely on them, something that the legislation should address.