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TCOLE History

The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (Commission) is a state agency created by an act of the 59th Legislature.  Senate Bill (SB) 236, which became effective on August 30, 1965, did not appropriate any funds for the operations of the Commission.  Original funding was provided from private foundations and federal grants.  This act provided for a voluntary program to improve law enforcement proficiency.  In 1967, the 60th Legislature included the Commission in the Appropriations Act and funded an executive director and three staff members.  Since then, the Commission has grown in staff and responsibilities.

The Sunset Commission, in 2008-2009, reviewed the Commission, and House Bill (HB) 3389 was passed in the 81st Legislature to continue the Commission until 2021.

The composition of the Commission is defined by Section 1701.051.  The Commission is governed by nine commissioners.  The governor appoints the commissioners, who are separated into three categories.  Three must be chief administrators of law enforcement agencies, which include sheriffs, constables and chiefs of police.  Three must be persons licensed by the Commission and two of whom must be peace officers in non-supervisory positions with a law enforcement agency when appointed by the governor.  Three must be private citizens with no direct connection with the field of law enforcement.  These nine members are voting members of the Commission.  The members are appointed for six-year terms with one member from each category going off the Commission each two-year period.  The appointment of these members is subject to the review and consent of the Senate.

The governor designates one of the appointees as presiding officer of the Commission.  The presiding officer serves at the pleasure of the governor.  The Commissioners elect the assistant presiding officer and secretary from the remaining eight appointed members.

The Commission is empowered by legislation to create rules for the administration of Chapter 1701, Occupations Code, and related statutes.

Sec. 1701.151. General Powers of Commission; Rulemaking Authority. 
The commission may

(1) adopt rules for the administration of this chapter and for the commission’s internal management and control;

(2) establish minimum standards relating to competence and reliability, 
including education, training, physical, mental, and moral standards, for 
licensing as an officer, county jailer, or public security officer;

(3) report to the governor and legislature on the commission’s activities, 
with recommendations on matters under the commission’s jurisdiction, and make other reports that the commission considers desirable;

(4) require a state agency or a county, special district, or municipality in this state that employs officers or county jailers to submit reports and information;

(5) contract as the commission considers necessary for services, facilities, studies, and reports required for:

(A) cooperation with municipal, county, special district, state, and 
(B) federal law enforcement agencies in training programs; and

(6) conduct research and stimulate research by public and private agencies 
to improve law enforcement and police administration.

The Commission has generated rules to enable it to fulfill the charges of 1701.  The rules are divided into sections that group similar topics together.

SectionTitle SectionTitle
211Administration (includes definitions used throughout the rules) 221Proficiency Certificates (requirements for certificates)
215Training (requirements for training providers and enrollment standards) 223Enforcement (actions taken by the Commission against licensees)
217Licensing (basic training and other requirements for licensees) 225Special Licenses* (requirements for contract jailers and medical peace officers) *effective March 1, 2004
219Examinations (requirements for attempting a licensing exam) 229Peace Officer Memorial (requirements for inclusion on the Memorial)

Authorized forty-six Full Time Equivalents (FTE’s) or employees that handle the Commission’s statutory charges:  As of August 1, 2009, these employees oversee 2,595 law enforcement agencies with 110,452 active licenses, 299 training providers, and 97,626 licensees.

Licensing Requirements

In 1969, the 61st Legislature amended the original act so that all peace officers would be required to be certified by the Commission prior to appointment, with an effective date of September 1, 1970.  This certification requirement also authorized the Commission to establish minimum requirements for certification. There are, however, exceptions to the requirement for licensing.  The exceptions are law enforcement officers elected under the Texas Constitution.

In 1979, the 66th Legislature required the Commission to certify county jailers.  The statute provided for a one-year temporary certification for jailers to receive the required basic jail training.

In 1983, the 68th Legislature enacted SB 155 requiring the Commission to prescribe the content of examinations and conduct examinations for each license issued by the Commission.

In 1987, the 70th Legislature enacted authority for the appointment of public security officers.  These are persons employed or appointed as armed security officers by the state or by a political subdivision of the state, but not security officers employed by private security companies that contract with the state or a political subdivision of the state to provide security services for the entity.

In 1987, the 70th Legislature required Commission to adopt rules providing for the accreditation of telecommunicator training programs and acknowledgement or certification of telecommunication operators (1701.405).  This also required that a telecommunicator complete the required training, Basic Telecommunications Certification Course, within one year of the date of appointment.  Agencies with twenty or fewer employees or agencies that do not perform 24-hour law enforcement services were exempted.  Telecommunicators are not issued a license, but receive an acknowledgement letter from Commission.

In 1997, the 75th Legislature amended Section 511.0092(f)(2) of the Government Code to require that employees of counties, municipalities, and private vendors who operate a contract to hold federal prisoners and prisoners from jurisdictions other than Texas must be licensed by Commission.  These jailers must meet the same requirements as county jailers.

Statutory Restrictions

Section 1701.153 states that the Commission shall set reporting standards and procedures for the appointment and termination of officers and county jailers.  It also provides that the chief administrative officer of a law enforcement agency is responsible for compliance with the reporting standards and procedures prescribed by the Commission.

Section 1701.301 states that a person may not be appointed to serve as an officer, county jailer, or public security officer unless the person holds an appropriate license issued by the Commission.  Section 1701.551 establishes a criminal penalty for violation of 1701.301.

Section 1701.303 specifically requires that a law enforcement agency or governmental entity must file the application for a person to be issued a license from the Commission.  An individual cannot apply for such license.

Section 1701.306 prohibits the Commission from issuing a license to an officer or county jailer unless the person has undergone a psychological and emotional health examination, been screened for any trace of drug dependency or illegal drug use, and undergone a physical examination.  Commission rule 217.1(a)(11) and (12) requires that these examinations must be conducted within 180 days of the date of appointment.

Section 1701.312 specifically disqualifies a person from being licensed as an officer, public security officer, or county jailer if the person has ever been convicted of a felony offense.  A felony conviction exists if the person has ever been adjudged guilty of a felony offense under the laws of Texas, another state, or the United States.  For example, a person is convicted if they were adjudged guilty of a felony and then the judge suspended the sentence and placed the person on probation.  The key phrase is “adjudged guilty” or “found guilty.”  If the court’s judgment and sentence contains this language, it is considered to be a conviction, and the person is disqualified from licensing.  A pardon for innocence restores a person’s privilege to be licensed.

Continuing Education for Licensees

Once an individual is licensed there are required training course(s) that must be completed in order to keep the license active.  The 77th Legislature (2001) modified the continuing education requirements established by the 74th Legislature (1995). The revised statute continued the 40-hour continuing education requirement each 24-month training unit for peace officers, but shifted the requirements for the mandatory courses to only once in the 48-month training cycle beginning September 1, 2001.  The 81st Legislative Session added a course requirement for the two-year unit and amended the training cycle course requirement which begins September 1, 2009.

A 24-month training unit for continuing education begins on September 1st of each odd-numbered year and ends on August 31st of the next odd-numbered year (for example: September 1, 2001 to August 31, 2003).  A 48-month training cycle is composed of two 24-month training units beginning September 1, 2001.  The Commission mails notices of impending non-compliance before the end of the current training unit and cycle.

Section 1701.351 requires each peace officer licensee to complete 40 hours of continuing education training each 24-month unit, and a course on state and federal law updates.  Section 1701.352, identifies specific topics that must be included as a part of the 48-month training cycle.

Topics for those holding a BASIC PEACE OFFICER Certificate or no certificate are:

1. Civil Rights, 
2. Racial Sensitivity, 
3. Cultural Diversity; 
4. Crisis Intervention Techniques; and 
5. Recognition and documentation of cases that involve: 
a. Child Abuse, 
b. Child Neglect, 
c. Family Violence, 
d. Sexual Assault, and 
e. Issues Concerning Sex Offender Characteristics

Those holding an INTERMEDIATE PEACE OFFICER Certificate or higher do not have specific courses (other than the legal update course) (new requirement).

During the 79th Legislature, House Bill 1473, required individuals licensed as peace officers for more than two years to complete a Commission developed training program on “de-escalation and crisis intervention techniques.”  This course must be completed not later than September 1, 2009.  This training cannot be delivered via distance education.

Previous legislative required training includes courses on: Asset Forfeiture (not later than September 1, 2002), Racial Profiling (not later than September 1, 2003), and Identity Theft (not later than September 1, 2005).

Each individual that is only licensed as a reserve officer, jailer, or public security officer must complete the cultural diversity part of the training in the 48-month training cycle, including the following topics:

1. Civil Rights, 
2. Racial Sensitivity, and 
3. Cultural Diversity

The Commission’s Cultural Diversity course covers the civil rights, racial sensitivity, and cultural diversity issues.

The Commission’s Special Investigative Topics course covers the investigative topics of: child abuse and child neglect; family violence; sexual assault; and issues concerning sex offender characteristics.

If an agency head determines that the investigative topics are inconsistent with an officer’s assigned duties, Section 1701.352 allows for alternative training to be provided in order to meet the 40-hour requirement.  The chief administrator must notify the Commission that an officer will be completing training other than the investigative topics.

Section 1701.352 of the Occupations Code requires that a person appointed to their first supervisory position in law enforcement must complete a training program on supervision issues as part of their 40-hour continuing education program within two years of their appointment to the supervisory position.  The New Supervisor Course also contains cultural diversity and investigative topics to meet the requirements for the 48-month training cycle in which the course was completed.

Disciplinary Actions on Licensees

Section 1701.501 provides that the Commission may establish procedures for the revocation of licenses, suspensions of licenses, and reprimands to licensees, or adopt other necessary enforcement procedures for a violation of Chapter 1701, Occupations Code, or a Commission rule.  Commission rules 223.15 and 223.19 contain provisions for these actions.

Commission rules 211.27, 211.28, and 211.29 require the reporting of an arrest, charge, or indictment for a criminal offense above the grade of Class C misdemeanor by the licensee, arresting agency, and appointing agency.  The licensee is also required to provide the Commission with final disposition documents within 30 days of the effective date of the disposition.

Professional Achievement Awards

Each year, the Commission accepts nominations for the annual Law Enforcement Achievement Awards provided for in Section 1701.401 of the Occupations Code.  HB 1492 of the 81st Legislative Session amended 1701.401(f) to allow the Commission to present awards relating to not more than a total of 20 incidents and accomplishments.

Created in 1989, the awards are presented to selected peace officers, reserve peace officers, jailers, or custodial officers who are licensed by the Commission.  To be eligible for an award, nominees should exceed the normal expectations of job performance through acts of valor, public service, or professional achievement.

The nominations must be submitted by an elected official of the state, an elected official of a political subdivision, an administrator of a law enforcement agency, or a person holding a current license issued by the Commission.

The awards program is conducted in the state capitol in May each year.  Nomination packets are available on the Commission website under “Forms & Applications.”

Texas Peace Officer's Memorial

The Memorial, which was authorized by the 71st Legislature in 1989 and dedicated on May 10, 1999, is a monument of honor and remembrance to Texas peace officers and correctional officers who have died in the line of duty.  The Commission was charged with the responsibility of ensuring that each of the officers is recognized appropriately for their service and ultimate sacrifice.  The monument contains the names of officers who have been killed in the line of duty since the commissioning of the first Texas peace officers.

The Memorial stands at the west wall of the Sam Houston State Office building on the northeast quadrant of the capitol grounds.  The Commission continues to accept contributions for the maintenance of the monument and, unfortunately, for the addition of names.

State Flag Distribution

Section 1701.161 requires the Commission, when requested by next of kin of a deceased peace officer, to provide a state flag without charge, if the peace officer was a current or former Texas peace officer.  
A letter and a certificate from the Governor of Texas accompany the flag, as does a letter from the Executive Director of the Commission.