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State lawmakers consider George Floyd Act as way to address police reform

Posted at 11:37 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 01:25:36-04

With Texas lawmakers in session, there’s now consideration of the George Floyd Act, a sweeping police reform proposal that would ban chokeholds across the state as well install other changes.

Supporters like Patrick Arryn, who led protests to end police brutality following the death of Michael Dean, say the new law would be a step in the right direction.

“This is a long overdue time that we have experienced for us to get some type of reform in our police stations. I believe taking these steps are going to make us a better country and a better state,” said Arryn.

Other Texans oppose the bill, saying it would increase the number of overworked and overwhelmed officers.

Criminal justice experts say most changes proposed in the legislation wouldn’t be tough to impose, but other changes would require more training, funding and explanation, like banning arrests for most Class C misdemeanors.

“Public intoxication type charges, actually the officers taking on liability. The officer just can’t leave the person that’s heavily intoxicated on the side of the road,” said Tammy Bracewell, assistant professor of criminal justice at Texas A&M University - Central Texas.

Passing the bill could also be a challenge. Local political experts say most state bills do the same as similar bills at the federal level, much like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020.

“With the federal level being controlled by Democrats yet not being able to pass this legislation, we certainly wouldn’t expect the Texas Legislature with both chambers being controlled by Republicans to pass this legislation,” said John Koehler, assistant political science professor at Texas A&M University - Central Texas.

Experts say if the bill passes, it could sway federal lawmakers to take action on other police reform bills.

The bill would address qualified immunity, which shields government officials from legal action. It would also require cops to intervene if they see another officer using excessive force.