To define the behavior and expectations of citizens and law enforcement during traffic interactions, the 85th Texas Legislature created the “Flashing Lights: Creating Safe Interactions Between Citizens and Law Enforcement” video under the Texas Community Safety Education Act.
This 16-minute video gives detailed instruction and advice in how to respectfully and safely cooperate with law enforcement officers. It starts with a speech from the author of the bill, Texas State Sen. Royce West, explaining what officials plan to achieve with the bill. It informs anyone watching what to do when pulled over by showing the wrong way to handle the situation, then goes on to show the correct and responsible way.
“One of the reasons why we have public school is not just to educate you on core-content areas but to also help create good, educated citizens,” Academic Associate Principal Ashley Alloway said. “I don’t think the video and course is a bad idea by any means; a lot of positivity can come from it.”
The new law will take affect with the class of 2022, and continue with each freshman group moving forward. During a recent meeting, the district decided the new curriculum will take place during the professional communications classes.
“Any student who has obtained any professional communications class outside of their comprehensive high school will be gathered in one location to complete it,” Alloway said. “We want to use either our small performing art center or the library, hopefully during advisory so as not to disturb other classes.”
Although it will not be required for this year’s upperclassmen to complete the course, if a student is enrolled in professional communications, he or she will watch the video anyway.
“We think that it is a good idea for students to all be exposed to it anyways,” Alloway said. “It’s not perfect by any means, but it does talk about what traffic stops may look like, and it helps educate people on why things are happening. I don’t think it is a negative thing; I think there is definitely positive intent.”
Freshman Kiera Kenney said learning about safe interactions with police while young is beneficial because these types of interactions may happen soon.
“I think it is a good idea because when a police officer pulls you over, you need to not argue,” she said. “(You should) just listen to what they say you need to do and follow instructions.”
Some students say this video is a waste of time, an unnecessary additional step to graduation. Others feel it does have potential to be a positive thing, however, it will likely take no effect on most of these aforementioned students.
“In theory the video is a good idea because it shows exactly how situations with police should be handled,” freshman Allison Barnett said. “But (students) don’t listen to what teachers have to say already, why would they listen to a video about what to say with police officers?”
Alloway said she hopes students, teachers and MHS officers all approach it with a positive attitude and realize that it is only 30 minutes of their life, but time well spent.
“If you approach it in a positive way, it will either serve as a reminder or at least help educate you a little bit,” she said. “When I was watching the video, it reminded me to also have positive interactions with law enforcement. I think it is a good reminder for everyone.”
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