Special to the Review
The Athens Review
Over the last week, Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee and Assistant District Attorney Justin Weiner have been teaching a training course for Henderson County Peace Officers. Over three sessions a total of 271 Peace Officers hailing from 27 difference agencies were in attendance. The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office sponsored McKee and Weiner’s course ensuring that the Officers in attendance received credit.
“I am very proud to be a part of this training and to give back to peace officers that give and sacrifice so much to ensure that our community is safe. It was a wonderful experience and great to see so many officers from so many agencies come together,” Weiner stated about the training.
In Texas, Certified Peace Officers are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education training every 24 months. The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education is responsible for maintaining and regulating said training and licensing in general. Some courses are mandated, but otherwise, Officers are allowed to attend an array of courses covering a large span of topics. One of the required courses is a State and Federal Law Legislative Update Course. The course usually costs $50 or less and covers a large portion of the changes from each Texas Legislative session. “At the end of the day, this training saved taxpayers and agencies a bunch of money because it was free” McKee added about the training.
The purpose of the course was to inform and educate Texas Peace Officers about new legislative changes in Texas Laws, Federal Laws, as well as U. S. Supreme Court decisions impacting local law enforcement. This also includes Texas statues including but not limited to the following codes: the Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Family Code, the Transportation Code, the Government Code, and the Occupation & Labor Codes.
The presentation was in the form of a four hour long slideshow that was created from scratch. The most important and relevant parts of the 83rd Texas Legislature were covered. After 210 days and three special sessions 5,868 bills were passed and 1,437 new laws were created. While it is impossible to go over everything in such a short period of time, the course aims to address the highlights in the law that are most likely to impact Peace Officers on a daily basis. This is a difficult task if you take into consideration that since 2001 alone, the Texas Legislature has created 290 new crimes.
Changes discussed cover everything from handicap placards, undercover school marshals, and all the way to automatic life sentences without the possibility of parole for certain sex offenders. The course was held at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in the Hart-Morris Conservation Room. “The facilities are top-notch and beautiful. The use of the facilities was generously donated by the fantastic folks at the Fishery Center so that we could comfortably accommodate as many officers that wanted to come,” stated Weiner. A third session was held at the Sheriff’s Office training room to accommodate those that couldn’t make the original two sessions at the Fishery.