AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - All high school students in Texas, beginning with incoming freshman, have a new requirement to complete before they can graduate.
The Community Safety Education Act says students must watch a video, called Flashing Lights, to teach them how to safely interact with an officer during traffic stops so everyone can walk away with a positive experience.
“It’s important for them to understand and see where we’re coming from and what would constitute a safety issue with us so they can prevent from doing that,” said Deputy Jake Wilkins, School Resource Officer at River Road High School.
The state says all incoming freshman must take the course.
River Road ISD, one of the first in the state to implement it, has already customized the curriculum to fit their students and will be expanding it to every high school student next month during a four day window in English class.
“We felt like it was important for all of our grade levels, all of our students to hear this,” said Rachel Freeman, Assistant Principal at River Road High School. “Juniors and seniors are the ones that drive so they’re the ones that are most likely to have an encounter with a police officer, so why would we not educate them.”
“In a controlled environment, any questions or curiosities they might have, we can discuss them,” said Deputy Wilkins. “I can also give a law enforcement perspective of things so they can relate to that.”
The school says this isn’t just textbook work, it’s a life skill students may need for years to come.
“A lot of them, when they get pulled over for the first time, it might be their first encounter with a peace officer. They don’t know what to expect, they don’t know how to act,” said Freeman. A lot of kids have a negative persona of law enforcement and they’ve only ever had negative experiences with law enforcement. So this kind of shines light on the positive side of it. It lets them know that law enforcement is here for them and not against them."
Students and law enforcement aren’t the only ones the state hopes will benefit from this training, new drivers will be taught this as well.