Texas law enforcement associations oppose George Floyd Act

As work begins on a Black Lives Matter mural in Houston, state legislators hope to make headway with George Floyd Act in Austin.

According to a survey by the University of Houston, 72 percent of all Texans support it, but 43% of Republicans do.

Texas Senate Bill 161 and House Bill 88 authored by State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) and Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) were filed in November. 

West says the bills are about trying to find a balance between supporting law enforcement and holding them accountable.


Some of the key objectives are to ban chokeholds, address qualified immunity, and require an officer to intervene when witnessing another officer use excessive force.

"We're looking to make certain there is a registry of police officers that are under investigation that decide to resign ahead of time and end up going to another police department," West explained.

Texas Municipal Police Association and Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas oppose the bills. 

In a letter to Thompson, CLEAT's Executive Director, Charley Wilkison, outlined why it opposes HB 88 including not supporting changes to qualified immunity. In bold, the organization states the bill does not include training for officers which they would support.

Kevin Lawrence, TMPA's Executive Director, told FOX 26 he met with Thompson and her staff earlier this week. 

He feels the bills will make Texans less safe and make police officers' jobs more dangerous.

"It propose policies that a, have nothing to do with George Floyd, and, b, are actually just very bad for public safety," Lawrence contends.

Thompson hopes to find common ground with TMPA and other law enforcement groups.

"One of those common grounds that I'm hoping for is in the area of qualifed immunity," she told FOX 26.

Lawrence holds qualified immunity does not prevent cops of being criminally prosecuted and should not be changed.

However, he says he agrees with the legislators on the overarching principals of the bill. The disagreements center around how those principles will be put into practice, he adds.


For example, Lawrence does believe a registry like West proposes may help.

"As long as there is due process component. As long as we make sure that cops are not getting basically run out of law enforcement because they arrested the city managers son for possession of marijuana," he hypothesized.

Lawrence suggests focusing police-related legislation on four key areas--improving training standards statewide, uniform background investigations, better due process for officers, and transparency.

For training standards, he hopes it will encompass de-escalation tactics.

"Make it something more than just 20 hours a year for in-service training," Lawrence said. "Our officers should constantly be going back through new training on the changes to arrest, search, and seizure case law."

As for transparency, he believes police departments should improve in communicating high-profile investigations, like the death of George Floyd.

"Where law enforcement needs to come share with the public, with our citizens, everything we possibly can with a guarantee that we will give them more as soon as we can," he explained. "And we've done a horrible job of that."

The next step would be for the bills to be assigned committees. West says he looks forward to negotiating the content of the bill with the law enforcement organizations and other stakeholders.