Category: Research Report
Facts and data regarding police reform in Texas
Over the past year, the public discourse surrounding law enforcement reform has been dictated largely by emotion rather than facts and data. This presents an ineffective and dangerous way to shape policy and has obscured the fact that 72% of Texans have a favorable opinion of their local police departments…
Qualified Immunity for Law Enforcement
While it is well understood that governmental bodies enjoy sovereign immunity, meaning they cannot be sued without their consent, there is more confusion when it comes to qualified immunity for police officers.
The most common misconception regarding “Qualified Immunity” is that it prevents a law enforcement officer from being fired, sued and/or criminally charged and convicted for an action which transpired during the course and scope of their duties. This is false.
Qualified immunity has nothing to do with the criminal investigation and prosecution of law enforcement officers, nor does it have any impact on disciplinary actions taken against officers. An officer who has engaged in misconduct can be terminated from their employment and be criminally prosecuted if they violated state law.
Civil Service for Texas Peace Officers
In 1947, the Texas Legislature recognized the need to establish a more professional fire and police service. For this reason, during the 50th Legislative session, HB 34 was passed allowing the voters of municipalities of 10,000 or more residents to vote to adopt civil service.
While Civil Service is often confused with collective bargaining, and meet and confer, it is a completely separate set of statutes designed to help municipalities establish more professional police and fire departments who are free from political influence when discharging their duties.
Collective Bargaining for Texas Peace Officers
In 1973, the Texas Legislature sought to ensure that police and firefighters receive compensation and working conditions comparable to private sector employees. For this reason, during the 63rd Legislative Session, HB 185 was passed allowing for voters in municipalities to allow their police to participate in collective bargaining.
While collective bargaining is often associated with strikes and big union tactics, the act was specifically created to give public safety employees a say in their pay, benefits, and working conditions, while expressly prohibiting strikes, lockouts, and other tactics which would put public safety at risk.
Contacts Between Police and the Public, 2015
In 2015, an estimated 21% of U.S. residents age 16 or older— about 53.5 million persons—had experienced some type of contact with the police during the prior 12 months (figure 1). This was down from 26% of residents in 2011.
A similar percentage of residents experienced police-initiated (10.8%) or resident-initiated (10.7%) contact. The most prevalent specific types of contact with police occurred when drivers were pulled over during a traffic stop (8.6% of residents experienced this) or when residents reported a crime, disturbance, or suspicious activity to police (6.7% of residents).
Findings described in this report are based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ 2015 Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS), a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The NCVS collects information from a nationally representative sample of persons age 12 or older in U.S. households. Te PPCS was designed to collect information from those 16 or older on contact with police during the 12 months prior to the interview.