FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 04/27/2021
Representative Lopez passes Second Bill of the 87th Legislative Session out of the Texas House of Representatives
AUSTIN, Texas - On April 23, 2021, Representative Ray Lopez of Bexar County passed his second bill out of the Texas House of Representatives, House Bill 1443 relating to training for county jailers on interacting with veterans in the criminal justice system.
"As a Veteran and Representative of Military City USA, I believe at minimum, Veterans returning home from their service to our country deserve to be treated with dignity and respect; and that is the sentiment behind HB 1443," stated Representative Lopez. "This respect and understanding becomes especially significant when Veterans become involved in the criminal justice system."
Approximately 9% of U.S. veterans and service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been arrested since they returned home. This results from a variety of complex factors including but not limited to: tramatic brain injury, depression, high anxiety, addiction and PTSD. Thus, it is imperative that people operating our jails understand these issues and know how to properly interact with incarcerated Veterans and service members. However, jailers in Texas are not required to have training for Veterans’ trauma needs.
House Bill 1443 would require Texas jailers to complete an online class on how to address the population of incarcerated veterans. "This course aims to provide a framework for jailers to have a basic understanding about US Military culture, traumas, triggers and stressors, and de-escalation techniques when encountering Veterans in crisis," said Representative Lopez. The course is structured around a series of lecture, videos, and class dialogue as well as role playing and hands-on practices to build student confidence when encountering a US Veteran in crisis. The Trauma Affected Veteran course builds on the crisis intervention training techniques that are taught in the basic Peace Officer licensing academy.
Representative Lopez urges his colleagues in the Senate to pass this incredibly important piece of legislation quickly. "We owe it to the people who have put their lives on the line for our country and to our law enforcement officers as well, to better understand the impacts of military-related trauma on the Veteran community in order to expand their knowledge of how to appropriately identify and respond to a trauma affected veteran."