Texas Senators Push Bill To Teach Students How To Act Around Police

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMarch 22, 2017 12:02 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A bill that would require public school students to be taught how to interact with police is headed to the full Senate.

Sens. Royce West (D-Dallas) and John Whitmire (D-Houston) proposed the legislation.

The longtime Texas senators say the goal of the bill is to help prevent interactions with police from escalating unnecessarily.

Whitmire said Tuesday that this kind of instruction wouldn’t just be helpful for young people.

“Quite frankly, I’d like every Texan to have [to] review what their role is when they have an encounter with law enforcement,” he said. “But we can’t reach everyone so it makes sense to go into our public schools as a course that will be very flexible with a heavy emphasis on local input.”

The Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice unanimously approved the bill.

A new Houston-based hotline that provides legal advice to immigrants has seen a surge of interest after President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders and statements on immigration.

The “Texas Immigrant Rights Hotline” has fielded more than 500 calls since it kicked off at the end of February.

Houston Public Media’s Andrew Schneider reports that a collection of Houston-based non-profits organized the hotline, with the assistance of law firm Vinson & Elkins. Most of the calls to the line originate within the Houston area, though some come from as far away as Florida and Los Angeles.

Kate Vickery is the executive director of the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative.

“The majority of the calls that we’re getting are from folks who do not have permanent legal status, who are undocumented, who are concerned about how to ensure that their family doesn’t get torn apart,” she tells Schneider. “And a lot of families who are mixed status, perhaps undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children, those families have a lot of concerns right now about how to ensure that their children will be protected and not end up in [Child Protective Services] custody should their parents be deported.”

But Vickery says the hotline is also getting calls from legal residents and even naturalized citizens, who are concerned about what changes in immigration law enforcement under the Trump administration mean for them. The line is staffed by volunteer attorneys, Schneider says, who can refer callers to immigration lawyers or non-profit legal service providers.

That hotline number is 1-888-507-2970.

A new report finds that fewer drunk drivers have been making it onto Texas roads.

That’s because of ignition interlock systems that test for blood-alcohol concentration.

The systems are installed in the cars of people who’ve previously been cited for drunk driving.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving found that having these systems in the car stopped more than 240,000 attempts over the last 10 years in the state – the most in the country.

Between 2015 and 2016 alone – the ignition interlock systems prevented more than 28,000 attempts to drive drunk in Texas.