Gov. Abbott issues 8 executive orders to prevent mass shootings

Gov. Abbott issues 8 executive orders to prevent mass shootings
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center with Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, right, and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, left, makes opening statements during a round table discussion, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Austin, Texas. Abbott is meeting in Austin with officials from Google, Twitter and Facebook as well as officials from the FBI and state lawmakers to discuss ways of combatting extremism in light of the recent mass shooting in El Paso that reportedly targeted Mexicans. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Source: Associated Press)

AUSTIN, Texas (KCBD) - Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a list of eight executive orders that detail steps for law enforcement and other public offices to report and stop mass shootings before they happen.

All go into effect Thursday, Sept. 5.

The executive orders come as a response to the mass shootings in Odessa and El Paso this August, and mass shootings in Santa Fe, Sutherland Springs and Dallas within recent years.

What spurred these orders were the circumstances surrounding the Odessa and El Paso shootings.

After the El Paso shooting, officials learned the shooter’s mother had expressed concerns to law enforcement about her son, and in Odessa the shooter called local and federal authorities before going on a killing spree.

Of the eight orders, six are specifically for the Texas Department of Public Safety. The orders detail ways for DPS to look for suspicious activity, report suspicious activity, and work with other law enforcement agencies to identify and report suspicious activity.

Within thirty days DPS is to develop standardized questions that can be used by law enforcement to identify whether a person calling DPS should be reported to the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network.

DPS should also, in that same time period, develop a clearer standard on when and how Texas law enforcement should submit Suspicious Activity Reports. After that DPS has 60 days to educate and train all law enforcement about the standards that are developed.

A campaign will then be developed to raise public awareness and understanding of how those suspicious activity reports will be used by law enforcement. DPS is also tasked with working with the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on ways to inform students, staff and families about the process of initiating these reports.

Beginning Jan. 1, the Governor’s Office will also require counties to make a commitment to report at least 90 percent of criminal convictions within seven business days to the Criminal Justice Information System within DPS. If there is no commitment by the county the Governor’s Office will withhold future grant awards.

By Jan. 1, 2021 reporting will be required within five business days.

All eight orders can be found below:

  • Order No. 1 Within thirty days of this order, the Texas Department of Public Safety shall develop standardized intake questions that can be used by all Texas law-enforcement agencies to better identify whether a person calling the agency has information that should be reported to the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network.
  • Order No. 2 Within thirty days of this order, the Department of Public Safety shall develop clear guidance, based on the appropriate legal standard, for when and how Texas law-enforcement agencies should submit Suspicious Activity Reports.
  • Order No. 3 Within sixty days of this order, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement shall make training available to educate all law-enforcement officers regarding the standards that will be developed pursuant to Order No. 1 and Order No. 2.
  • Order No. 4 The Department of Public Safety shall create and conduct an initiative to raise public awareness and understanding of how Suspicious Activity Reports are used by law-enforcement agencies to identify potential mass shooters or terroristic threats, so that the general public and friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, and classmates will be more likely to report information about potential gunmen.
  • Order No. 5 The Department of Public Safety shall work with the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on ways to better inform schools, students, staff, and families about the importance of Suspicious Activity Reports and how to initiate that process.
  • Order No. 6 The Department of Public Safety shall work with local law enforcement, mental-health professionals, school districts, and others to create multidisciplinary threat assessment teams for each of its regions, and when appropriate shall coordinate with federal partners.
  • Order No. 7 The Department of Public Safety, as well as the Office of the Governor, shall use all available resources to increase staff at all fusion centers in Texas for the purpose of better collecting and responding to Suspicious Activity Reports, and better monitoring and analyzing social media and other online forums, for potential threats.
  • Order No. 8 Beginning January 1, 2020, all future grant awards from the Office of the Governor to counties shall require a commitment that the county will report at least 90 percent of convictions within seven business days to the Criminal Justice Information System at the Department of Public Safety. By January 1, 2021, such reporting must take place within five business days.

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