Texas’ Solution To Police Shooting Unarmed Suspects: Teach Students How To Behave Around Officers

The law doesn't just require students to watch and understand the video but also officers in the state as well.

A police officer interacts with someone he's pulled over.
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The law doesn't just require students to watch and understand the video but also officers in the state as well.

Amid myriad news reports in recent years of unarmed individuals being shot and/or killed by police, freshmen entering Texas public schools this year will be required to watch a new video in their classrooms, detailing their rights and expectations if they ever have to interact with police officers when they get pulled over on the side of the road.

The video is a requirement for all students to watch from this point forward, starting with the class of 2022. If students do not have it on their academic record as having watched the video, the will not be allowed to graduate when they complete their senior year, according to reporting from the Washington Post.

The video, produced by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, was pushed and promoted through the legislature by Democratic State Sen. Royce West. The requirement to watch and understand the elements of the video will not rest solely with students — law enforcement personnel must also complete training on the video by January 2020 and within two years of attaining their licensure in the years after that, according to Fox San Antonio.

West explains that the law was put in place to allow teens and officers to understand each others’ points of view.

“I wanted to put something in place that would temper the expectations of police officers and citizens,” West said.

The law is not without its detractors. Fatima Mann, the founder and director of a nonprofit called the Community Advocacy and Healing Project, said that the video discounts the “human component” of what goes into a traffic stop.

“I could know what to say, how to say it, what tone to say it in, but we’re talking about ‘knowing rights’ as if everyone involved is a robot,” she said.

The 16-minute video gives students tips on what to do when they get pulled over or are otherwise questioned by an officer inside of a vehicle. Tips include telling students to keep your hands visible and not move around or reach for anything in the car without first letting the officer know you’re doing so.

The video also answers commonly asked questions, like whether an individual should exit a vehicle when they get pulled over, if an individual can say “no” to an officer searching their car, and what to do if the driver doesn’t believe they did anything wrong. It also explains that a person has a right to videotape an interaction with police, although it also cautions that officers want to see what you’re doing with your hands while you’re doing so.