Texas senator pushes for class to teach teens what to do during police stops

Texas senator pushes for class to teach teens what to do during police stops

With rising concerns of police brutality and officer involved shootings, one Texas senator is pushing for schools to teach teens what to do during police stops.
Senator John Whitmire, (D) Houston, wants schools to be required to provide a police contact class.

He envisions the class being added to either a civics or physical education class and said this is an important topic that needs to be covered.
Senator Whitmire said he feels a lot of people do not know what to do or what to expect when they're stopped by officers, except to be scared.

"I believe we should instruct our young people what is the best practice not only for themselves and certainly what to expect from the law enforcement officer," said Senator Whitmire.

He said not knowing what to do when coming in contact with officers can quickly escalate a situation, but hopes educating students can help.
Senator Whitmire wants to start with ninth graders who are just getting their driving licenses and would like for people outside of the school to come in and speak to students.
"Perhaps law enforcement, so they can exchange ideas and concerns," said the Senator.
He adds local input is necessary so the classes can cater to each community.
Senator Whitemire also wants to teach teens their rights and what to do if an officer handles a stop poorly.
He said teens need to know you can't win a disagreement with an officer on the side of the road.
However not everybody thinks the class is a good idea.

"I believe we're just making too much of these things. We're making the police officer's jobs hard because, you know, bringing so many racial issues into things," said Jennifer Kirkpatrick, a mother of three.
She said how to act when your approached by an officer should be common sense.
"Just be cooperative and friendly. They're just doing their job. We don't always understand the situation. They're put into dangerous situations, and we just need to be really careful when they're approaching us; not out of fear, just out of respect," said Kirkpatrick.
Although some people agree there should not be a class, their reasoning is different.
"I don't feel like anybody should be put in a situation to where they should ever even question whether a cop should come at them the wrong way or ever even have to feel like a cop would come at them the wrong way," Adrian Cooper, an MSU student.
Cooper said you should feel safe with cops, but adds some of his friends do not feel that way.
"It's always stuck in their head that this has been going around, and they just hope that nothing goes wrong. No one should have to feel like that," said Cooper.
Some teenagers said they wish they would've had the class because when they got pulled over by a cop, they had no idea what to do.  One Texoma mom agrees with them.
"I personally would (like to have had the class) because I've never been pulled over by a cop. My parents have told me what to do in that type of situation, but people who aren't educated in it, it could cause problems for them," said Morgan Barwick.
Senator Whitmire said it is not just up to the citizens, officers need to be trained on how to de-escalate contact as well.
He said educating both officers and citizens can help decrease some of the tragedies that we have witnessed here recently.
He adds Texas Senator Royce West and the DPS are working on changing what the Texas Driver Handbook said is expected of you when you get pulled over.

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