The Lone Star Review - State

Texas Law Enforcement May Have Stricter Hiring Standards if Senate Bill 24 Passes

Senate Bill 24 provides for procedures to hire law enforcement personnel. The intent of SB24 is to hold both applicants and law enforcement agencies accountable. This would be done by requiring review of pertinent records of prior conduct and activities before an applicant is hired by a law enforcement agency.

Specifically, SB24 would require law enforcement agencies to review basic background information on applicants during the hiring process. The information included in the review would consist of the applicant’s personnel file at any previous law enforcement agency.

Upon completion, the hiring agency must certify to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) that it has reviewed the required information.

The proposed statue contains the following requirements:

PROPOSED Sec. 1701.4511.

PREEMPLOYMENT PROCEDURE: PEACE OFFICER POSITIONS

Before a law enforcement agency may hire a person licensed under this chapter for a peace officer position, the agency shall:

  1. Obtain the officer’s written consent, on a form and in the manner prescribed by the commission, for the agency to review the information required to be reviewed under this section
  2. Request from the commission and any other applicable person, on a form and in the manner prescribed by the commission, information required to be reviewed under this section; and
  3. Submit to the commission, on a form and in the manner prescribed by the commission, confirmation that the agency, to the best of the agency’s ability before hiring the person:
    1. Contacted each entity or individual necessary to obtain the information required to be reviewed under this section; and
    2. Except as provided by Subsection (b), obtained and reviewed as related to the officer, as applicable:
      1. Personnel files and other employee records from each previous law enforcement agency employer, including the employment application submitted to the previous employer
      2. Employment termination reports maintained by the commission under this subchapter
      3. Service records maintained by the commission
      4. Proof that the officer meets the minimum qualifications for enrollment in a peace officer training program under Section1701.255(c)
      5. Military veteran ’s Department of Defense Form DD-214 or other military discharge record
      6. Criminal history record information
      7. Information on pending warrants as available through the Texas Crime Information Center and National Crime Information Center
      8. Evidence of financial responsibility as required by Section 601.051, Transportation Code
      9. Driving record from the Department of Public Safety
      10. Proof of U.S. citizenship
      11. Information on the officer ’s background from at least three personal references and at least two professional references.

The proposed legislation would close a lot of “loopholes” we have witnessed in our review of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). Some of the information presented in this legislature was already a Texas Administrative Code (TAC) or Rule issued by TCOLE in 2012; however, this Legislature will hold more weight and goes into more depth of hiring requirements.

As of April 7, 2021, the SB24 has passed through the Texas Senate and has been placed in the House Committee of Homeland Security and Public Safety:

This bill is important to our reviews and recommendations and we will be tracking its progress. We hope to see it becoming effected legislature this year.