By Nicole James Scott, NDG Contributing Writer
In an effort to create better transparency of police agencies Texas Representative Eric Johnson has filed House Bill 245, which seeks to address the current lack of reporting of police shootings. According to a study conducted by Texas State University in San Marcos, from 2005-2015 more than two hundred incidents of police shootings by Texas law enforcement officers went unreported.
Policing particularly in African-American and Latino communities historically and presently remains a point of contention. HB 245 aims to turn that around according to Legislative Director for Rep. Johnson, Garrett Fisher.
“It [HB 245] builds community trust that law enforcement agencies are doing their jobs and being forthcoming with all of the current data that’s available,” Fisher said. HB 245 is a follow up to the legislature was introduced by Rep. Johnson in 2015 and passed, requiring officers to report fatal shootings.
What HB 245 stands to do is actually enforce the current law, whereby penalizing police agencies that are not complying. Under the proposed legislature police agencies found in violation will be fined $1,000 for the first infraction and $10,000 for the second one. The bill was presented to the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee Tuesday.
According to Fisher’s Rep. Johnson’s office has been working closely with stakeholders and law enforcement regarding the bill which is currently pending in committee after its public hearing on March 14.
Also slated to be heard, House Bill 1489 which would freeze the pay of any state agency heads who fail to meet their Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) contracting goals. It’s fair to write, any legislature that will incentivize state agencies to do everything within their power to ensure HUB’s are getting their fair share of the economic pie is one worth championing. By targeting the heads of state agencies, Fisher claims, the agencies themselves will indirectly be affected.
“Representative Johnson really wanted to make sure the state is living up to the goals that it sets for itself, that it is actually doing business with women and minority-owned businesses,” Fisher stated.
As with all bills, HB 245 and HB 1489 must undergo the lengthy process before they actually land on the governor’s desk but so far, so good. Nothing suggests the possibility these proposed bills will not ultimately get the green light.