I join the chorus of voices condemning the actions of the Minneapolis police officers who took the life of Houston’s George Floyd, and I strongly urge my colleagues, activists, and policymakers across Texas to speak out. We must show the many communities across Texas who are fearful of similar interactions that, while we may not know firsthand the issues they face daily, we empathize with them and will work to ensure a Texas that is free, fair, and just for all.
In the days since the murder of George Floyd, I’ve seen fellow conservatives across the country rush to deflect attention from the brutality of the Minneapolis officers and draw attention to “black on black crime.”
To be absolutely clear, crime committed between citizens and abuse perpetrated by government on citizens are two very different things.
Every person in our country is deemed innocent until proven guilty. Police officers, unless in defense of their own life or lives others, should never take it into their own hands to determine the punishment for an alleged crime is a death sentence.
As a conservative, I fight daily to limit government scope creep, to stop overlap, and to stymie the growth in government. Police officers are not prosecutors, judges, or district attorneys and, as such, we should not look to them, or excuse them, when they take it upon themselves to levy a punishment especially when that punishment results in death.
Many of us put a premium on government accountability, transparency, and limitations, as well as personal freedom, and that means we should be the first to speak up when issues like this arise.
Who are we if we demand accountability from the agencies tasked with creating laws, but refuse to hold accountable the government agency tasked with enforcing those laws?
Many of the issues that drive the rift between communities and police exist at the local level, but there are steps that can be taken by the state to begin to address these issues.
I commit to supporting qualified immunity reform so bad actors posing as public servants can truly be held accountable for their actions. Additionally, my office will be looking into reforms to Chapter 143 of the Texas Local Government Code to allow local jurisdictions to respond swiftly in instances like this.
One thing Minneapolis did right was firing the four officers involved in the incident within 24 hours. Even with such a clear-cut employment violation, in Texas, because of Chapter 143 and Collective Bargaining contracts, officials wouldn’t be able to fire officers that quickly. This issue was raised by Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and it is one worth exploring deeper.
Every time another video comes out showing a senseless death at the hands of our government, we express grief and frustration, but collectively move on until the next video that shocks our senses makes its way across our screens. It’s time we address the underlying problems that contribute to these issues and address our attitudes and power we confer to those who are tasked with protecting us.
Note: Per Chapter 143, Tex. Local Government Code: With certain exceptions and requirements, the Chief has the ability to fire an officer after 48 hrs for an alleged violation of a crime.