As the fight to end police violence rages on across the country, a state senator in Texas wants high schoolers to learn how to communicate with law enforcement during traffic stops. But the proposed curriculum assumes that the people targeted during those stops are the problem— not the officers.
Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) is currently eyeing legislation that would require schools to teach ninth graders about encounters with police on the road. Noting that there’s a deep-seated mistrust of police, he wants the Texas Board of Education to ensure that young people learn what their rights are early on. But Whitmire, who says his idea was inspired by Sandra Bland’s violent arrest and subsequent death in custody, also wants students to learn how they should behave around officers who pull them over.
“Ms. Bland’s tragedy is a huge motivation for me to hold the officer accountable and also assist the public in some of the better practices when they encounter law enforcement,” he told the Texas Tribune. “[If] Ms. Bland and the officer would have taken a deep breath, I don’t believe she would have been taken to jail, where she ultimately met her fate, unfortunately because she was not treated right when she got to jail.”
She wasn’t treated right? She was murdered, Senator. Dead, never coming back. That’s more than not being “treated right”, we aren’t talking about cops being rude.
As for teenagers in Texas, it’s impossible to know if officers will shoot them during traffic stops — even if they’re obeying orders and expressing their rights in a respectful way. While Whitmire said that officers should also let go of the “‘I caught you’ mentality,” his proposal still puts the responsibility of de-escalation on teenagers, rather than the adults hired to serve and protect them.
Local police officers included in conversations about the proposed legislation agree that the responsibility to reduce tension during a stop shouldn’t fall on officers’ shoulders.
“On the side of the street is not the place to litigate what you believe the officer is doing is wrong or what the officer believes you are doing wrong,” Executive Director Kevin Lawrence of the Texas Municipal Police Association explained to the Tribune. “It needs to be a better understanding by our general citizenry of what law enforcement is expecting of them. They need to understand that when they’re being contacted by a law enforcement officer — we’ll just take a traffic stop as an example — they need to think about that stop from the officer’s point of view, not their own.”
There isn’t enough fuck you, and fuck that in the universe for this continued idiocy. No, cops need to be accountable, and the responsibility for not escalating anything at all should be firmly on the shoulders of every single cop. You want to swagger around, weighed down by weapons, playing lord of the universe, you fucking take responsibility. I can’t even express how much I hate this shit, that it’s on me and every other person out there to prevent our own murder, especially as cops seem to be very keen on murdering people who are not only fully complying and have their hands up, they are now seen as a threat after they have been tased, for fuck’s sake! No, cops, go fuck yourself, you are all wrong, wrong, wrong. You stand up, and take responsibility. You stand up and do the right thing. You stand up for your community, because you are a part of that community. You point the finger at the bigots, the violent morons in uniform standing next to you. You point the finger at all the bullies. You refuse to work with them, you refuse to work at all unless there are goddamn standards put in place. Point the finger at all those upstanding people in blue who go home at night and beat the shit out of their partners and kids, then wander around with weapons the next day. Clean up your own houses, put that focus on policing yourselves. There isn’t a person anywhere who can trust a fucking cop.
While well-intentioned, Whitmire isn’t the first lawmaker to offer advice about how to behave around cops. And not all of that advice has been positive.
Following the shooting death of Jamar Clark in Minnesota, Rep. Tony Cornish (R) wrote an op-ed about how to “reduce the use of force by police.” In it, he wrote, “Don’t be a thug and lead a life of crime so that you come into frequent contact with police,” and “Don’t make furtive movements or keep your hands in your pockets if told to take them out.”
Full story at Think Progress.