Teen And Police Service (TAPS) Academy Supports The Community Safety Education Act of Texas

In June of 2016 TAPS Academy staff met with State Senator John Whitmire’s staff to introduce the TAPS Academy philosophy, training and programming to the senator. Several weeks later the senator introduced legislation calling for instruction to improve citizen and law enforcement relations by requiring 9th graders in the state of Texas to receive instruction.

Senator Whitmire who chairs the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice called for a hearing in fall of 2016 in which Dr. Penn, the Director of TAPS Academy testified. During his testimony Dr. Penn explained to the Criminal Justice Committee the importance of both sides (law enforcement and youth) receiving education, training and programming to improve their relationship. “By learning from each other youth and police can reduce their social distance”, said Penn.

The following months were filled with Dr. Penn communicating with legislative officials throughout the state informing committee members, government officials and the general public about TAPS Academy programing in relation to the proposed legislation. Dr. Penn touted how TAPS Academy programming was the only national program approved by the Texas Education Agency to grant 1 academic credit to high school students. He also pointed out the evidence-based research demonstrating TAPS Academy programming success for youth and law enforcement involved.  

Eventually Senator Royce West from the 23rd District took lead of Senate Bill 30 and it emerged as The Community Safety Education Act which passed the 85th Texas Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on June 9th 2017.

The Community Safety Education Act requires:

  • Approximately 2 million high school students in Texas to receive a Texas Education Agency approved curriculum to improve citizens and law enforcement relations;
  • Approximately 80,000 peace officers in Texas to receive training to improve citizens and law enforcement relations; and
  • Requires all persons in Texas applying for their driver’s license to receive training to improve citizens and law enforcement training.

TAPS Academy was gratified by the final outcome of Senate Bill 30, The Community Safety Education Act as it followed the philosophy of TAPS Academy in which both groups, citizens and law enforcement work together to improve relations and reduce their social distance.

In August of 2017 Dr. Penn the Director of TAPS Academy was appointed to be a member of the statewide implementation committee. Over the next year he and TAPS Academy staff will work with several Texas agencies to implement the law so that citizens and law enforcement may have improved relations in Texas. Currently the law is being studied by several other states as an example of legislation to reduce the social distance between citizens and law enforcement.

               See the law in its entirety below.:

AN ACT

 

 

relating to inclusion of instruction regarding interaction with

 

peace officers in the required curriculum for certain public school

 

students and in driver education courses and to civilian

 

interaction training for peace officers.

 

       BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:

 

       SECTION 1.  This Act may be cited as the Community Safety

 

Education Act.

 

       SECTION 2.  Subchapter A, Chapter 28, Education Code, is

 

amended by adding Section 28.012 to read as follows:

 

       Sec. 28.012.  INSTRUCTION ON INTERACTION WITH LAW

 

ENFORCEMENT. (a)  In this section:

 

             (1)  "Board" means the State Board of Education.

 

             (2)  "Commission" means the Texas Commission on Law

 

Enforcement.

 

             (3)  "Driver training school" has the meaning assigned

 

by Section 1001.001.

 

       (b)  The board and the commission shall enter into a

 

memorandum of understanding that establishes each agency's

 

respective responsibilities in developing instruction, including

 

curriculum and instructional modules, on proper interaction with

 

peace officers during traffic stops and other in-person encounters.

 

The instruction must include information regarding:

 

             (1)  the role of law enforcement and the duties and

 

responsibilities of peace officers;

 

             (2)  a person's rights concerning interactions with

 

peace officers;

 

             (3)  proper behavior for civilians and peace officers

 

during interactions;

 

             (4)  laws regarding questioning and detention by peace

 

officers, including any law requiring a person to present proof of

 

identity to a peace officer, and the consequences for a person's or

 

officer's failure to comply with those laws; and

 

             (5)  how and where to file a complaint against or a

 

compliment on behalf of a peace officer.

 

       (c)  In developing the instruction under this section, the

 

board and the commission may consult with any interested party,

 

including a volunteer work group convened for the purpose of making

 

recommendations regarding the instruction.

 

       (d)  Before finalizing any instruction under this section,

 

the board and the commission shall provide a reasonable period for

 

public comment.

 

       (e)  Subject to rules adopted by the board, a school district

 

or open-enrollment charter school may tailor the instruction

 

developed under this section as appropriate for the district's or

 

school's community.  In tailoring the instruction, the district or

 

school shall solicit input from local law enforcement agencies,

 

driver training schools, and the community.

 

       SECTION 3.  Section 28.025, Education Code, is amended by

 

adding Subsection (b-20) to read as follows:

 

       (b-20) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules to

 

include the instruction developed under Section 28.012 in one or

 

more courses in the required curriculum for students in grade

 

levels 9 through 12.

 

       SECTION 4.  Subchapter C, Chapter 1001, Education Code, is

 

amended by adding Section 1001.109 to read as follows:

 

       Sec. 1001.109.  INFORMATION RELATING TO TRAFFIC STOPS.

 

(a)  The commission by rule shall require that information relating

 

to law enforcement procedures for traffic stops be included in the

 

curriculum of each driver education course and driving safety

 

course.  The curriculum must include:

 

             (1)  a demonstration of the proper actions to be taken

 

during a traffic stop; and

 

             (2)  information regarding:

 

                   (A)  the role of law enforcement and the duties

 

and responsibilities of peace officers;

 

                   (B)  a person's rights concerning interactions

 

with peace officers;

 

                   (C)  proper behavior for civilians and peace

 

officers during interactions;

 

                   (D)  laws regarding questioning and detention by

 

peace officers, including any law requiring a person to present

 

proof of identity to a peace officer, and the consequences for a

 

person's or officer's failure to comply with those laws; and

 

                   (E)  how and where to file a complaint against or a

 

compliment on behalf of a peace officer.

 

       (b)  In developing the curriculum under this section, the

 

commission may consult with any interested party, including a

 

volunteer work group convened for the purpose of making

 

recommendations regarding the curriculum.

 

       SECTION 5.  Section 1701.253, Occupations Code, is amended

 

by adding Subsection (n) to read as follows:

 

       (n)  As part of the minimum curriculum requirements, the

 

commission shall require an officer to complete the civilian

 

interaction training program developed under Section 1701.268. An

 

officer shall complete the program not later than the second

 

anniversary of the date the officer is licensed under this chapter

 

unless the officer completes the program as part of the officer's

 

basic training course.

 

       SECTION 6.  Subchapter F, Chapter 1701, Occupations Code, is

 

amended by adding Section 1701.268 to read as follows:

 

       Sec. 1701.268.  CIVILIAN INTERACTION TRAINING PROGRAM.

 

(a)  In this section, "board" means the State Board of Education.

 

       (b)  The commission and the board shall enter into a

 

memorandum of understanding that establishes each agency's

 

respective responsibilities in developing a training program,

 

including training and testing materials, on proper interaction

 

with civilians during traffic stops and other in-person encounters.

 

The training program must include information regarding:

 

             (1)  the role of law enforcement and the duties and

 

responsibilities of peace officers;

 

             (2)  a person's rights concerning interactions with

 

peace officers;

 

             (3)  proper behavior for civilians and peace officers

 

during interactions;

 

             (4)  laws regarding questioning and detention by peace

 

officers, including any law requiring a person to present proof of

 

identity to a peace officer, and the consequences for a person's or

 

officer's failure to comply with those laws; and

 

             (5)  how and where to file a complaint against or a

 

compliment on behalf of a peace officer.

 

       (c)  In developing the training program under this section,

 

the commission and the board may consult with any interested party,

 

including a volunteer work group convened for the purpose of making

 

recommendations regarding the training program.

 

       (d)  Before finalizing a training program under this

 

section, the commission and the board shall provide a reasonable

 

period for public comment.

 

       SECTION 7.  (a)  Not later than September 1, 2018:

 

             (1)  the State Board of Education and the Texas

 

Commission on Law Enforcement shall develop:

 

                   (A)  the instruction required under Section

 

28.012, Education Code, as added by this Act; and

 

                   (B)  the training program required under Section

 

1701.268, Occupations Code, as added by this Act; and

 

             (2)  the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation

 

shall adopt rules regarding the curriculum required under Section

 

1001.109, Education Code, as added by this Act.

 

       (b)  Section 28.025(b-20), Education Code, as added by this

 

Act, applies beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.

 

       (c)  A peace officer or reserve law enforcement officer who

 

holds a license under Chapter 1701, Occupations Code, issued on or

 

before January 1, 2018, shall complete a training program

 

established under Section 1701.268, Occupations Code, as added by

 

this Act, not later than January 1, 2020.

 

       SECTION 8.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2017

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