Law requires students view police interaction video prior to graduation


Prosper ISD Website

Prosper ISD police officers gather for group photo. Campus officers are there for students’ safety and protection. “The majority of police officers want to do well by people,” principal John Burdett said. “Their job is to serve and protect.”

Grace Williamson, Reporter

Students will view a police interaction video issued by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Dec. 21.

The video is mandatory for Texas high schoolers to graduate, as enforced by the Community Safety Education Act. Senator Royce West said the goal of the act is to define the behavioral expectations of citizens during traffic interactions.

“It addresses appropriate actions that drivers should take when they are pulled over by the police, and how we should interact with the police,” principal John Burdett said. “It’s an informational video that is about 16 minutes long.”

The video covers basics, like how to react to getting pulled over by a member of law enforcement.

“One of the benefits in Prosper is that we have great police officers who do interact other than ‘I have to write you a ticket’ or something like that because that is not the only time we want interaction to happen,” Burdett said. “It is a safety piece that we have, is that we just understand general guiding principles that we expect in Texas.”

The Community Safety Education Act was implemented Sept. 28, 2018.

“Safety is the most important part of being stopped because when police stop you, they don’t know who’s in the car. They don’t know what you’ve done,” officer Darrell Terry said. “Always comply, and do what you need to do. If the police stop you, they have a reason, and there is a probable cause.”

Burdett said the video is a safety for both law enforcement and citizens.

“This gives us a general understanding of what they will do, and what we should do,” Burdett said. “The expectation is this is how we should interact with police.”

Texas is the first state to incorporate this curriculum into public high schools.

“A lot of this stuff, some people would say is common sense that’s taught at home, but sometimes it’s not,” Burdett said. “The state knows it’s required for kids to come to school, so that’s one way they can show millions of students, and it’s a proactive measure.”

Without a check of attendance on students’ transcripts, they will not receive diplomas.

“This is my first year here at Prosper and I think the students do really well with us,” Terry said. “Beginning of the year there was a little bit of a struggle to get the students to reach out and say ‘hi’ because a lot of students are not comfortable with police, but we took this job to show not only students, but the staff to show that we are real people, and we’re approachable. We just want that interaction to be comfortable and as real as possible.”

School campus officers will walk hallways, and make sure students are where they should be, but they are also there for everyone’s protection.

“There’s a chance you may be pulled over by the police, but if your interactions with the police at your school has been great, then you know what to expect,” Terry said. “Build relationships, and be friendly with us. Come say, ‘Hi.’ See what we’re about.”

Law enforcement officers joining the force also undergo training for interactions with citizens.

“I tell students here, that if I never take a kid to jail this year, that’s an awesome year for me,” Terry said. “I didn’t get in this line of work to work in school and take kids to jail. There’s a lot of prevention and work to avoid that.”

The video contains questions asked by students, along with thorough answers.

“If the police stop you, and he has reason to stop you, that’s why he made the stop,” Terry said. “If he asks you to do something, just comply with it. He’s not going to have you do anything that puts your life in danger.”

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