Archive for the ‘SB 1175’ Category

A Grits For Breakfast Commentary by Scott Henson 

Finally, the committee approved a bill, SB 1175, that would allow police to give a Class C ticket for “failure to identify” when they detain a suspect. (Discussion of the bill begins at the 1:32:00 mark.) Currently, Texans don’t have to identify themselves unless they’re actually arrested, and it’s not a crime if you don’t do so. In practice, of course, police can’t write a ticket without the identifying information, so this would give them cause to arrest you and cart you off to jail (under authority affirmed by the US Supreme Court in Atwater v. Lago Vista, a Texas case).

What kind of situations are we talking about? Under what circumstances might you be “detained” when police have no cause to arrest you? The examples given were things like “taking pictures in front of a nuclear power plant,” but I think the new power would be used more widely than that, and mostly in non-terrorism related cases.

I wrote about a situation last year where I was detained on the street for, essentially, “babysitting while white.” Some busybody called 911 because they saw me walking down the street with a two-year old of a different race. Three police cars were sent to detain and question me over this grave matter. That was a formal “detention” and Sen. Patrick’s statute would have applied. More than a few commenters were offended that I wasn’t more cooperative with police – though I did give my name and address when asked, I refused to answer detailed or personal questions. I thought a lot afterward about why I reacted the way I did. Mostly it’s because the officer precisely didn’task for my name at first, but instead asked a series of questions aimed at determining whether I was some sort of child molester or kidnapper.

Sen. Whitmire asked why any law abiding citizen would refuse to identify themselves, and while I can’t speak for others, I know why I wouldn’t answer questions that day. As I said in reply to a commenter in that post, “Talking to cops who want to investigate you for false allegations of sex crimes has many potential negatives that simply refusing to speak to them wholly avoids.” When the conversation starts out with an accusation, it’s wholly justified and probably wise from the perpective of a potential defendant to not give police any information at all.

Whitmire himself identified another reason someone might not want to tell police who they were – if they were having an affair or some other “domestic situation.” There are many possible scenarios where someone might not want their spouse, their job, etc., to know their whereabouts, but that wouldn’t imply a crime was committed. The point is, in a free society, that person has free will to make bad choices as long as they don’t harm others or violate the law. “None of your business” is still a valid response.

To demand, “if you don’t have cause to arrest me, let me go” IMO is a reasonable exercise of one’s rights and shouldn’t require subjecting yourself to a check in the warrants database, which is the main thing this is really about at the end of the day. With more than 10% of adult Texans having outstanding traffic warrants, every time someone walks away without running them through the system, police miss a 10% chance they’ll owe money that can be leveraged from them with a trip to the jail.

This is not a slippery slope toward a police state but a straight chute. I’ve joked before how, during the Cold War, we used to consider it the height of totalitarianism that Communist police might stop an average citizen on the street, demand to see their papers, and arrest them if they didn’t comply. But that’s exactly the kind of power Sen. Patrick’s legislation would give police in Texas: Identify yourself or go to jail. “Can I see your papers, comrade?” That’s unnecessary. The law’s just fine like it is.

BTC COMMENT: Please Texas, don’t give it up for the mall cops.
Don’t make it that easy.


Bill [SB 1175]Would Require You to Identify Yourself At All Times

Any ‘peace officer’ can demand i.d. any time, doesn’t say exactly who qualifies as a ‘peace officer.’

c/o War On You

Patrick’s’ bill does not specify exactly who a ‘peace officer’ who is authorized to demand papers is. It doesn’t say whether it would be limited to TCLOSE certified police officers, or would apply to constables, security guards, or neighborhood watch members. It also doesn’t specify what passes for ‘i.d’ and wither it would have to be a photo i.d.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Texas Senate has approved a bizarre measure which would require citizens to show some sort of identification to any police officer who demands it, at any time, for any reason. [WOAI news reports]

Currently, it is illegal for a person to give a false name to police, but there is no law requiring a person to provide i.d. at an officer’s whim. And State Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) doesn’t like the sound of this bill.

“We still live in a free society,” he said. “I don’t want police officers to be able to pull you over and ask that you identify yourself.”

The bill would also require individuals to provide their date of birth and ‘residence address’ to police.

Supporters of the bill, like State Sen. Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) says there are safeguards.

“A police officer would not have the discretion just to come over and ask for i.d. on just anybody,” he said.

Hinojosa said the officer would have to have a ‘good reason’ to demand identification.

The bill is sponsored by State Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), who is a strong supporter of individual rights.


“It is illegal for them to falsely identify themselves, but it is not illegal for them not to tell you who they are,” Patrick said. “In this era of national security issues, if we have a police officer detaining someone at a high profile target, it is in the best interests of the safety of that officer and this community to be able to quickly determine who that person is.”


Other lawmakers say if a person is bent on committing a crime, the individual is not likely to be deterred by the possibility of a misdemeanor charge of failure to identify.


Patrick’s’ bill does not specify exactly who a ‘peace officer’ who is authorized to demand papers is. It doesn’t say whether it would be limited to TCLOSE certified police officers, or would apply to constables, security guards, or neighborhood watch members. It also doesn’t specify what passes for ‘i.d’ and wither it would have to be a photo i.d.

The bill also does not spell out any safeguards or recourse for citizens who are asked at random to identify themselves to police.



Printed from: http://radio.woai.com