Report: Law enforcement regulation is ‘broken’ in Texas

One of the many challenges that have emerged in 2020 for governmental agencies across the nation has been finding ways to restore public confidence in policing – a challenge our state is currently not meeting, according to a Texas Sunset Advisory Commission report.

Harsh assessment

The scathing report on the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement says the system for law enforcement regulation is “fundamentally broken” and “toothless.”

The report says Texas’s law enforcement regulation Is “a fragmented, outdated system with poor accountability, lack of statewide standards, and inadequate training.”

Fired here, rehired there

The lax oversight means that more than a quarter of police officers who are dishonorably discharged from departments are hired elsewhere in Texas by another law enforcement agency. In addition, the report says, the agency can only revoke an officer’s license if the officer has been convicted of a crime or pleaded no contest to criminal charges.

A recent news report from Fort Worth detailed the police accountability challenge faced there. A whopping 337 officers have had incident reports filed against them, ranging from low-speed accidents in police cruisers to charges including sexual assault, planting evidence and theft.

Examples of cited officers

Sergeant Antoine Williams has been cited 16 times, including allegations that in 2015, he stole four pairs of sneakers from a drug dealer. He was found not guilty on the charges. When the department fired him, he sued for racial discrimination and was later rehired. He then dropped the discrimination lawsuit.

Officer James Williams has been accused of sexual assault, among other things – including an incident in which he allegedly tried to implicate his supervising officer in prostitution after the supervisor made unwanted changes to Williams’ schedule.

Because the city’s police chief is stepping down at year’s end, Fort Worth is searching for a new chief and possibly a new policing direction.