Texas Democrats try to seize the moment for police reform — why they’ll need help

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Flanked by the family of Botham Jean — the Dallas man who was killed by an off-duty police officer while inside his own apartment in 2018 — Texas Democrats unveiled a police reform proposal named in his honor.

“Bo’s Law” would clarify the state’s Castle Doctrine to require someone to physically be in their home, car or place of work in order to use the stand-your-ground defense.

The proposal would also require a police officer to record all aspects of an investigation with their body-worn camera.

“HB 929 will set us a step closer to Texans being safe at home,” state Rep. Carl Sherman, a Dallas Democrat, said. “No one should have the right to break into your home or your car, kill you or your family, and claim that they thought it was their car.”

Bo’s Law is the latest attempt by Texas Democrats to seize the moment for meaningful police reform in the 87th Legislature, capitalizing on calls for change following the deaths of Jean, George Floyd, Javier Ambler and Mike Ramos.

But any reform effort requires Republican support, and state leaders have instead focused their attention on preventing local governments from reducing police budgets.

While the moment has changed, Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, said the political hurdle for Democrats hasn’t.

“In a world where, typically, you’d see consensus politically towards criminal justice reform, and you have in the past couple sessions, you’ve got the defunding the police, you’ve got the law and order messaging from Republicans really in the way,” Rottinghaus said.

Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association, said Bo’s Law “should never see the light of day” because of its requirement for body cameras to record all aspects of an investigation.

“It’s about whether or not our law enforcement officers have any rights, whatsoever. Whether or not they have rights under the 4th, 5th or 6th amendments like every other citizen in this country,” Lawrence said.

Politics reporter John Engel will have a full report tonight at 6 p.m. on KXAN News.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Tracking the Coronavirus

Coronavirus Cases Tracker

Latest Central Texas COVID-19 Cases

Trending Stories

Don't Miss