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Proposed police interaction law an old habit for some

Under a proposed law from State Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Senator John Whitmire, students would be required to take a class on police interaction.

Maddie Owens

Under a proposed law from State Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Senator John Whitmire, students would be required to take a class on police interaction.

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Students may be required to take a class on police interaction under a proposed new Texas law. This bill comes at a time of tension between black citizens and police, and while some families already discuss racial issues, State Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Senator John Whitmire, who is filing the bill, demands more.

“Increased training and education for both peace officers and our students will help foster positive relations and interactions,” Whitmire said. “We must all come together to develop the best strategies to improve relations and trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

In Frisco, we are very fortunate to have a community that is extremely supportive of its police department and first responders in general,”

— Frisco Police Department’s Community Service Officer Ryan Chandler

Even without a class, students like junior Sisi Simo said they agree that the environment between Frisco students and police is more accepting and inclusive than other places.

“I think that Frisco is very diverse in that there are a lot of different minorities that live here, and that we do live in harmony. In the instances that I’ve had with racism or sexism have been to a minimum, because Frisco’s a pretty open and involving place,” Simo said. “Still within those places you have those people who are still in that mindset that one race is superior to the other.”

 

Although the proposed law would require all high schools to teach students how to interact with police, it’s something that is already being done by some black parents. Culinary Arts teacher Nija Higgins said that as a mother of two black sons, recent events have bothered her and she has talked to her sons about police.

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“You really can’t prepare, so what I do tell my children is to be careful of what neighborhood you go in, so that you won’t get stereotyped and to just be aware of your surroundings,” Higgins said. “My kids do a really good job of listening carefully and doing what they’re asked, but that doesn’t mean something won’t happen to them.”

Other parents such as economics teacher and head soccer coach Fred Kaiser believe police encounters and what to expect is something that people of all races should discuss and while he teaches a more simplified version of police interaction with his young children, discussions with his soccer players are more in depth.

I think everyone should talk to their children about how to deal with police and government officials and people who are in an executive role and it’s important for everyone to have an understanding of what should be expected,” Kaiser said. “My kids are only six and eight, so they’re a bit younger, but I tell them to always use their manners. When I talk to soccer players about it, I tell them to just realize it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong. They’re still the police, so if they’re wrong, make note of it, and then if something bad’s happened then complain and make as much noise as you possibly can after the fact.”

It’s not an actual formal, sit down conversation, but it’s the reinforcement in conversation and communication that you’re having with your family, your peers, and other people in your community that basically is letting them know that things aren’t the same for you as for a white person,”

— junior Zoomy Taylor

For junior Zoomy Taylor, discussing how to handle police encounters is not just one conversation, but an ongoing series of conversation between black friends and black family members.

“It’s not an actual formal, sit down conversation,” Taylor said. “It’s the reinforcement in conversation and communication that you’re having with your family, your peers, and other people in your community that basically is letting them know that things aren’t the same for you as for a white person.”

Simo said that while many of the encounters she has had with police have been positive, she has been advised to take certain precautions.

“I’ve been told that when I get pulled over, I [should] put my wallet and everything on the dashboard and have my hands on the wheel so that it doesn’t look like I’m reaching for something and trying to attack,” Simo said. “It kills me that I have that conversation with my parents because I wanna feel safe, and I wanna feel like the people who are put in the position to protect me will protect me.”

The Frisco Police Department’s Community Service Officer Ryan Chandler believes the relationship between citizens and police is an overall positive one with the department helping facilitate this with forums for the public to communicate with the department.

In Frisco, we are very fortunate to have a community that is extremely supportive of its police department and first responders in general,” Chandler said. “We aim to serve all of our citizens equally and to the best of our ability.”

 

About the Writer
Brooke Colombo, Editor-in-chief
Brooke Colombo is Editor-in-Chief of Wingspan, and has been involved in journalism since her freshman year. It’s been a year now, and present Brooke still isn’t 100 percent sure of what she’s doing with her life. In addition to Wingspan, Brooke is involved in the school’s varsity choir, and especially enjoys singing a good ol’...
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