The Sunset Commission released its Staff Report With Commission Decisions on the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) this January. The Sunset bills themselves have not yet been filed.
The report firmly condemns Texas’ bifurcated approach to law enforcement regulation (TCOLE at the state level and law enforcement agencies at the local level). This bifurcated approach was implemented to allow for flexibility, “… but [it] has resulted in a fragmented, outdated system with inconsistent application and poor accountability that no longer best protects the public or law enforcement personnel,” according to the report.
Among the Sunset Commission’s recommendations is to establish a 15-member blue-ribbon panel to comprehensively evaluate and provide recommendations to the Legislature and the Sunset Commission on the regulation of law enforcement in Texas. The panel would focus on three key areas: standards for professional conduct for licensees; licensee training and education requirements; and accountability for licensees and law enforcement agencies.
The Sunset Commission recommended authorizing TCOLE to require confidential examinations of licensees suspected of being impaired, while underscoring the importance of confidentiality throughout the process. The commission recommended authorizing TCOLE to temporarily suspend a license if it finds an imminent threat to public health, safety or welfare, and directed TCOLE to develop a penalty matrix. Another recommendation would require TCOLE to conduct fingerprint-based criminal background checks of all licensure applicants and licensees. The commission recommended TCOLE continue as an agency for two years, until 2023.
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