Following the tragedies in El Paso and Odessa, Governor Greg Abbott yesterday issued eight executive orders to help prevent further mass shootings by enhancing reporting requirements and ensuring law enforcement and the public have the training, tools, and resources they need to provide and respond to Suspicious Activity Reports. Today’s action by the governor is a starting point in the process to keep Texas communities safe. To further advance solutions and jumpstart legislative action, Governor Abbott will be releasing a report of findings and recommendations from the Texas Safety Commission meetings next week.
In the aftermath of both shootings, officials learned that the mother of the El Paso gunman had expressed concerns to law enforcement about her son. In Odessa, the killer had called both local and federal authorities prior to his shooting spree. Today’s directives by the Governor will help close the information gaps when suspicion of a potential mass shooter arises. While these executive orders will enhance law enforcement’s ability to respond and prevent these shootings, legislative solutions are still needed.
“Texas must achieve several objectives to better protect our communities and our residents from mass shootings” said Governor Abbott. “One of those objectives is to marshal law enforcement resources to stop violent criminals before they commit mass murders. But more must be done. I will continue to work expeditiously with the legislature on laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, while safeguarding the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Texans.”
Pursuant to his powers as Governor and Chief Executive of the state of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has issued the following executive orders:
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.