Sunset Commission report: Texas law enforcement regulation is 'fragmented' and 'toothless'


A recent report by Texas’ Sunset Advisory Commission found that the “state’s current regulation of law enforcement is, by and large, toothless.” First reported in the Houston Chronicle, the report showed “Texas’ patchwork of uneven oversight has resulted in ‘a fragmented, outdated system with poor accountability, lack of statewide standards, and inadequate training.’”

The review, which was released just prior to the start of the 87th Legislative Session, also shows that while more than 600 Texas law enforcement officers were dishonorably discharged in 2019 for misconduct, more than a quarter of them were rehired. 

The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, which is responsible for licensing police officers among other law enforcement personnel, has “almost no authority to act against an officer’s license.”

Sunset Advisory Commission staff recommended establishing a blue ribbon panel to evaluate current regulation of law enforcement in order to make “needed changes to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public as well as law enforcement personnel.”

Created in 1977, the Sunset Commission evaluates state agencies and their programs for effectiveness and relevance. The Commission consists of 12 members – 5 state senators, 5 state representatives, and two public members appointed by the lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. 

In response to the staff report, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement: “Members of the 87th Texas Legislature have their work cut out for them, but we must come together, look at the evidence, and make change. Lives depend on solutions.”

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