According to an article in the Texas Tribune, beginning September 1st., 2017, first responders can avoid prosecution by having ‘first responder specialty courts’ hear their cases. (“public safety employee” means a peace officer, firefighter, detention officer, county jailer, or emergency medical services employee…”)
“Texas police officers and other first responders who have job-related mental health issues can soon be diverted into pretrial treatment programs if they commit a crime..”
The first question everyone should be asking is, how many mentally ill police officers are there?
Texas House Bill 3391 “relates to the creation of a specialty court for certain public safety employees who commit a criminal offense; imposing fees for participation and testing, counseling, and treatment.” (Click here to find out more.)
According to the Texas Legislature Online, not a single politician thought letting police officers avoid prosecution was a bad idea. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill in June, along with a handful of other bills that focused on helping police and first responders.
Judge warns police specialty courts could be abused…
“A specialty court could have the unintended consequences that there is special treatment — that there is less justice for law enforcement personnel than [a citizen’s] own family,” County Judge Clay Jenkins said.
She’s right, this will have unintended consequences.
For a police officer to avoid prosecution, he or she will need to get their fellow officers to vouch that they need to be in the ‘safety treatment program’. And just like some perverted magic act, all of the officer’s problems will disappear.
According to the Texas Tribune, judge Susan Brown said she is aware of one case that fits the criteria for the ‘first responder specialty courts’.
Sadly, this isn’t the first instance of police avoiding watch lists or prosecution. Four months ago, I wrote a story revealing that it appears police are also exempt from being placed on watch lists.
“It is very telling” that a Hollywood police officer arrested for domestic violence in December “was not placed on the watch list and not sent the target letter. This is either evidence of favoritism and a double standard’…” Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said.
It appears that ‘specialty courts’ are expanding across the country, how long before other states create their own ‘first responder specialty courts’? (A Google search for ‘specialty courts are expanding ‘ returned over 100,000 hits.)