AUSTIN, Texas —
What protests look like and how police respond vary around the state. But one thing is the same: we all want peace and fairness.
Across Texas, most protests are peaceful.
But some cities, like San Antonio, Dallas and Austin, had protests that led to riots. Police used weapons to break up crowds and keep things under control.
“Violence is coming into Texas from across state lines,” said Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday.
No matter which city you live in, how the police respond to the public should be transparent.
The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement trains officers in controlling a person or crowd.
The “Basic Peace Officer Course,” shows force options:
- Professional presence - entering into a scene
- Verbal communications - words, language
- Weaponless strategies - takedowns, come-alongs, etc.
- Weapon strategies (chemical/electrical means, stun gun, baton or impact weapon)
- Deadly force
Some departments post their general orders online:
- San Antonio gives an easy-to-follow guide box.
- Fort Worth defines what officers consider threats.
- Austin tells you what weapons officers carry and how they’re used.
- Houston, while use of force is left to “objectively reasonable” calls, anything above the state’s “step two” would require a report to the boss.
In each city we looked, officers, protesters and those on the sidelines all shared one same sentiment: they want peace and equality.
If your local police, sheriff or other law enforcement agency does not have their policy posted online, you can request it.
The Texas Public Information Act Handbook 2020 shows police are allowed to redact certain specific details, but you can get general information.
The handbook shows:
“Open records decision no. 531 (1989) — detailed guidelines regarding a police department’s use of force policy may be withheld, but not those portions of the procedures that restate generally known common-law rules, constitutional limitations, or penal code provisions; the release of the detailed guidelines would impair an officer’s ability to arrest a suspect and would place individuals at an advantage in confrontations with police;
Open records decision nos. 211 (1978), 143 (1976) — information that would reveal the identities of undercover agents or where employees travel on sensitive assignments may be withheld.”
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