SJR 55 Election of Police Chief

SJR55, currently under consideration by the Legislature's State Affairs Committee in Austin will revise statutes and require any police chief in a municipality with a population of 5,000 or more to be publicly elected.

The measure came up for a reading in the Texas Legislature on March 23rd and calls for cities with a population of 5,000 or more to elect their police chief, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

  Currently, urban police chiefs are appointed by the mayor or city manager and appointed for an indefinite period.

  With increased scrutiny on the actions of urban police forces, civil rights activist Carlos Quintanilla of Accion Texas says an elected police chief would be more accountable to the public.

  "Many times, especially from the minority perspective, chief of police are not accountable to anyone," he said.

  Some Texas cities, most notably San Angelo, still elect thir police chiefs.  100 years ago, local police chiefs were frequently elected.

  "Sometimes it is very difficult to put pressure on a police department chief, so they feel very protected, they feel very buffered," Quintanilla said.

  Supporters of the bill say we currently elect urban county sheriffs, why shouldn't we elect big city police chiefs.