AUSTIN, Tx. (KSLA) - “While we want [law enforcement officers] to be able to fulfill the task for which we hired them, we don’t want them to be abusive in that task,” Texas House Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) said.
The George Floyd Act aims to de-escalate situations involving police officers and civilians, and hold officers accountable for excessive force.
Thompson authored a bill for the House, and Royce West (D-Dallas) authored a bill for the Senate, each with the same goals: ban chokeholds, require officers to intervene or de-escalate situations involving excessive force, end arrests for fine-only offenses and take away qualified immunity – which shields government officials from legal action.
“We want to be able to say that every citizen, including African Americans, have the right to be protected and not abused or treated unjustly by the police department,” Rep. Thompson said.
She said she believes the death of George Floyd sparked nationwide shock, which inevitably shed a light on the need for police reform.
“Those times when you are being stopped by police officers for things that should be ticket offenses, there is no need to take you into custody,” Rep. Thompson said. “There is no need to abuse you. There’s no need to mistreat you because you happen to be a person of color.”
Sen. West said he does not expect this to be easy.
“It’s going to be a tough conversation,” he said.
Sen. West said he wants to make sure people - both police officers and civilians - make it home to their families at night.
“My problem, in many instances, is the use of force and it’s sometimes overutilized,” he said. “The fact is in the George Floyd Act, what we require officers to do is to de-escalate the use of force when they’re no longer in danger.”
Texas legislators go into legislative session Jan. 12, 2021.