Reporting Joel Thomas
FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - Texas lawmakers will likely see a bill in the next legislative session allowing some military veterans to skip most police academy training en route to becoming a sworn police officer.
The bill will be named for highly decorated Navy SEAL Chris Kyle who was working with Dalworthington Gardens Chief of Police and a Tarrant County Constable on the idea before Kyle was murdered on February 2nd.
Kyle thought the proposal would be good not just for the police departments but for the veterans suddenly thrust into the civilian world.
“Every day they’ve been told what to do,” said Tarrant County. Constable Clint Burgess who was working with Kyle on a proposal to ask legislators to push in Austin. “They have a meaning. When they get out they have no meaning in life. Chris Kyle fought through that constantly. He always wanted to help somebody. And this was a bill we were working on before the incident.”
That bill would allow special operations soldiers — such as Navy Seals — to join police departments – faster. . But the veterans would skip police training at the academy such as firearm and tactical instruction. Instead, they’d take a two week course on state and local laws — and then be ready for duty. The idea is they’d already have training and a sense of service the day they signed up to be an officer.
“I think most of them are going to utilize the same skills they already have: tactical training, approaching buildings, making sure the community is safe,” Burgess said. “More of an advanced first responder.”
“I just hope we look more in-depth other than just their former occupation,” said Rev. Kyev Tatum, with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who is a proponent of officers coming from the neighborhoods where they will serve.
Tatum said military training doesn’t necessarily equate to the skills a police officer needs when interacting with citizens. That includes combustible situations like a domestic violence call. And Tatum believes two weeks is not enough time to gauge the effects combat may have had on the police cadet.
“You can give someone a uniform and a pistol and a Taser and put them in what appears to be a combat zone to them and the next thing you know innocent lives are dying at the hands of someone who is not evaluated properly,” Tatum said.
Burgess said psychological evaluations are part of the hiring process, not part of the training.
“The academy itself doesn’t weed out the problems itself in an individual,” Burgess said. “All it does it certify. The agencies are required to take it upon itself to check out the medical and psychological placement of a person.”
Burgess said the idea has already cleared a big hurdle by winning the approval of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education which oversees officer training in Texas.
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