TAB newsroom legislative priority bill clears committee, headed to Senate floor voteposted on 3.23.2015
There is good news to report on one of the four TAB newsroom legislative priorities in the 84th Texas Legislature.
A bill that would make public the records of a campus police department at a Texas private college or university, SB 308, by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, is headed to the full Senate for a floor vote.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee voted 5-0 last week to approve a committee substitute of the bill.
The substitute bill differs from the original filed bill by clarifying that the TPIA will apply “solely” to the law enforcement records of a private university or college’s police department.
Sen. Whitmire has listed SB 308 on the Senate Intent calendar which means it could be considered for approval by the full Senate later this week.
KPRC-TV investigative reporter Robert Arnold testified on TAB’s behalf at the bill hearing by detailing the circumstances which led to Whitmire’s filing of the legislation.
In late 2013, Arnold reported on the severe beating of a suspected bike thief at the hands of the Rice University campus police.
The off campus incident was captured on police dash camera video.
A whistleblower provided the video to the station.
When Arnold and KPRC attempted to follow up on the incident with the University, Rice officials refused to disclose its records saying the private school was not subject to the Texas Public Information Act.
Rice’s lack of accountability angered Whitmire, a staunch law enforcement supporter, who noted at the time that all law enforcement needs to be accountable to the citizens of Texas.
Arnold also detailed attempts by the media to investigate the 2013 fatal shooting of a student by a University of the Incarnate Word police officer which were met with a similar stance.
He noted more than 20 private universities and colleges in Texas have some form of campus police department.
Questions? Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.
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