First, TCLEOSE asked for its investigators' authority to be expanded (p. 84):
Peace officers of TCLEOSE are empowered to investigate and enforce violations of the Occupations Code 1701, but no other provisions of the Penal Code, which includes such violations as official misconduct, and impersonating a peace officer. ...It's surely absurd that investigators at the state peace officers' licensing agency cannot look into criminal allegations themselves but must rely on "convincing other officers of the importance of investigating their own profession." Indeed, it's precisely because local cops "do not like the idea of investigating fellow officers," which after all is a pretty common phenomenon, that TCLEOSE investigators should be empowered more broadly.
Limiting TCLEOSE investigators to violations of 1701 means that, when TCLEOSE investigators discover penal code violations, violations of the Private Security Act 1702, or any other violations of the law other than violation of 1701, TCLEOSE investigators must solicit and obtain timely cooperation from a fully empowered peace officer. Many peace officers find these requests from TCLEOSE troublesome because they have their own priorities and demands, and some do not like the idea of investigating fellow officers. Regardless of the reasons, TCLEOSE investigations and investigators are left with the task of convincing other officers of the importance of investigating their own profession.
Similarly, I was encouraged by TCLEOSE's suggestion that the Legislature should create an "integrity unit" to investigate police misconduct in Texas (p. 87):
Because the State of Texas licenses peace officers and jailers, many Texans are of the impression that the state investigates complaints of integrity and alleged wrongdoing. When they look at the state government, they often call, write, or e-mail TCLEOSE with their allegations. If it is an allegation for which we have jurisdiction, i.e., for potential violations of the OC Section 1701, then we investigate, determine the validity, and provide feedback to the complainant. If we do not have jurisdiction, we refer the matter to other agencies such as a local district attorney, a sheriff’s department, a local police department, the DPS rangers, etc. Unfortunately, we find that many of the complainants have already spoken to local authorities and were dissatisfied or found themselves ignored. Perhaps Texas should have an “umbrella” integrity unit at the state level to investigate allegations of police corruption.I think both these suggestions are good ideas. In an era when revelations about police corruption related to drug crime and Mexican cartels have become a weekly occurrence in Texas, it's time for the state to address the problem of police corruption more directly. Not only would doing so reduce crime overall, if Texas doesn't take this steer by the horns IMO it will be impossible to ever seriously threaten the operation of multinational drug cartels. I recently saw a new law review article making the same point about corruption while arguing for prosecution of so-called police "testilying," arguing that:
the collateral benefits of such increased policing of the police far outweigh the drawbacks. In fact, increased policing of the police would not only have the collateral consequence of reducing crime across the board. It would also benefit the police themselves by leading to safer and better policing.Let's hope the the Legislature accepts these two TCLEOSE recommendations and beefs up the agency's authority to investigate police corruption in 2009. One imagines the police unions will fight the idea (as they have in the past), but it's really in their interest to clean up the profession - the vast majority of good officers out there don't benefit from protecting bad cops.