Texas Governor Greg Abbott is trying to make the lone star state a safer place to work for law enforcement.
Governor Abbott is now working to promote the Police Protection Act that, amongst other measures, would make it a hate crime for anyone to commit a crime against a law enforcement officer out of bias against the police.
"The men and women in uniform risk their lives every day to protect the public, and it is time we show them the State of Texas has their back. Texas will no longer tolerate disrespect for those who serve, and it must be made clear to anyone targeting our law enforcement officials that their actions will be met with severe justice," said Texas Governor Greg Abbott in a press release regarding the Police Protection Act (Click here to see release).
Not only does Governor Abbott propose extending hate crimes protections to law enforcement but he also wants to increase penalties for any cram in which the victim was an officer, whether or not it is listed as a hate crime. The Governor also announced that he plans on organizing a campaign to educate Texas communities about the value that law enforcement brings to society.
Wichita Falls Police Sergeant Harold McClure said his department does all it can to strengthen the bond between the community and law enforcement.
"We are a very unique community in that there is a strong support for the police department. I believe a lot of that stems from an open line of communication and from programs similar to the police academy," said Sergeant McClure.
The Wichita Falls Police Department holds two Wichita Falls Citizens Police Academy's every year. The WFCPA allows everyday citizens 21 and older an opportunity to learn about what goes on with the WFPD and see how officers operate when they are in the field. Sergeant McClure said the WFPD wants to be as inclusive as possible when it comes to building a relationship between the department and the community.
"We very much have the mindset that this police department belongs to this community. This is your police department and at this police department we like to try to create a way where you are able to come in," said Sergeant McClure.
Governor Abbott said that request the Texas legislature to pass the Police Protection Act in the 2017 legislative session. If the Governors plan is passed the proposed campaign to educate Texans on the importance of law enforcement could open up more funding for community police programs like the Wichita Falls Citizens Police Academy.