TYLER, Texas — George Floyd's life was taken on Memorial Day 2020, videos which circulated after the event sparked a conversation across the country about policing in America.
During the trial for former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) hired Cygnal to conduct a survey to learn how Texans felt toward law enforcement. The organization serves over 1,800 agencies across the state including Jacksonville, Longview, Palestine, Tyler and more East Texas cities.
Kevin Lawrence, the executive director for TMPA, said the goal was to receive honest feedback.
"72% of Texans say that they still have full faith in their local law enforcement officers, that has not changed," said Lawrence. "They do not believe that we should have wholesale changes to public policy based on rhetoric and hyperbole, but they do expect us to improve the level of services that law enforcement provides."
Lawrence said the survey results showed the association what they've been advocating for, is also what communities want from their departments: more training.
"We're (the state) not mandating new techniques, new tactics, we spend precious little time on firearm training that's mandated," he explained. "We're not mandating de-escalation. When we start trimming budgets, which are the first two things you trim, when you start looking at budget shortfalls? Staffing and training."
To become a police officer in Texas, someone must pass drug tests, undergo psychological analyses, criminal and background checks, as well as not having any conviction higher than a Class B misdemeanor or Class B misdemeanor within the last 10 years.
The training to be an officer then can take on average about 13 to 19 weeks, with each agency setting its training schedule. The state requires police academies to provide at least 618 hours of instruction.
"The amount of training required to become a licensed peace officer in Texas is less than half the amount of training required to become a licensed cosmetologist," said Lawrence. "And then on top of that, you're only required to go through 20 hours of in service training every year, that's the baseline required by the state.”
Lawrence said the best police departments are the ones who follow a community policing model from top to bottom and learn the communities they've sworn to protect and serve.
"The better we understand our citizens and more importantly, the better our citizens understand why law enforcement does what it does the way it does... the fewer misunderstandings we're going to have."