New bill would give school officers more training

The video of a South Carolina deputy pulling a high school student out of a chair in a classroom has gone viral, and the deputy was fired Wednesday.

State lawmakers have already taken steps to try to make sure that type of incident won't happen in Texas.

“I was appalled, actually, that an officer would be treating a student in this manner,” said State Rep. Helen Giddings (D).

Giddings co-authored a bill past this session that would give officers who work in schools more training to hopefully prevent this type of episode.

“We are creating a sixteen-hour training program so that all school resource officers and municipal police who are contracted to go into ISDs have to have this training in order to go on to the campus and work with these students,” said Giddings.

House Bill 2684 requires specific training for officers who work in schools in de-escalation techniques, mental health, restorative justice, psychological development of adolescents, conflict resolution and mental health illness.

“It’d a good law,” said Dallas ISD Assistant Chief of Police Bill Avera. “It’s a very good law.”

 

Avera is one of those helping develop the curriculum.

“It’s going to be things that we need daily in the school district setting that maybe the average street officer wouldn’t come into contact with as often,” he said.

Avera worked in several departments 28 years before coming to Dallas ISD.

He won’t weigh in on whether the South Carolina deputy was right or wrong, but says school resource officers should handle that confrontation differently.

“We would address the situation, seek compliance and then of course we could ramp up if necessary,” said Avera. “You can always ramp up. Sometimes it’s not as easy to ramp down.”

The law is targeted at school districts with 30,000 students and more, and it requires those school resource and municipal officers who work in schools to have the training by June 1, 2016.

“We want to make sure that our students understand the authority that police officers have and that they comply with that authority, but in the end, I think the worst thing that we can do for our children is to have them afraid of police officers,” said Giddings.

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