AUSTIN (KXAN) – Lawmakers have formalized recommendations that could significantly change the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement’s police oversight role — that is, if the suggestions pass into law.

The recommendations for changes to TCOLE are noted in 16 brief bullet points in the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission’s report to the 88th Legislature, which was posted Tuesday. The Commission says the changes would “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement regulation in Texas, including aligning TCOLE’s statutes and procedures with best practices.”

You can see the full list of proposed rule and law changes here.

Potential changes to TCOLE – and the Sunset Commission’s review of the agency – have been years in the making. The 87th Legislature didn’t pass TCOLE’s Sunset bill in 2021, leaving a revamp of the agency on hold for at least two years while the Commission conducted a limited-scope review.

Recommended changes to TCOLE include the following:

  • Allow TCOLE to set and enforce minimum standards for law enforcement agencies.
  • Require law enforcement agencies to background new officers using a national decertification database before hiring and issuing a license.
  • Remove separation categories from the F-5 form, which is a sheet that is filled out when law enforcement officers leave a post. This change would eliminate the dishonorable discharge category.
  • Clearly authorize TCOLE to temporarily suspend a license in cases of an imminent threat to public safety.
  • Require TCOLE to create a system for police agencies to report failed fit-for-duty exams, or refusals to be examined, and give TCOLE authority to suspend licenses in some cases.
  • Define TCOLE’s authority to issue administrative subpoenas.
  • Clearly authorize TCOLE to keep complainants confidential.
  • Remove subjective licensure qualification from statute.
  • Require TCOLE to create a public, searchable database identifying police officers’ license status.
  • Align TCOLE’s continuing education requirements with its established training cycle and remove statutory deadlines.
  • Update requirements related to commission member training.
  • Update the agency’s statute to reflect person-first respectful language.
  • Authorize TCOLE to create an advisory committee.
  • Continue TCOLE for 12 more years.

The Commission’s report to the Legislature comes one month after it voted to approve the recommendations. KXAN reported on that vote in January.