Tag Archives: charley wilkison

‘Right on crime, ‘smart on crime’ initiatives are really just ‘soft on crime’

After years of being marginalized as the nutcase enemies of the police, the far left and far right are now converging with a brand-new scheme.

Across the country comes the various “right on crime” and “smart on crime” initiatives that have at their core a sweeping plan to neuter law enforcement.

After failing at successfully bringing for-profit prisons and jails to the mainstream, the same crowd now aims to tear down the structure and bring your arrest powers, the number of police, the equipment you use, your job and your pension all down in one fell swoop.

Remember a short time ago the businesses that pushed for a massive overhaul of the criminal code? Changes to juvenile code, enhancements of federal immigration law?

These movements spurred a massive buildup of private, for-profit prisons and county jails. As time has gone by the political tides have turned and public distrusts for profiteering in prisons has become less appealing. Also the raw scandals behind many of the prisons have come to light.

Now that it’s clear that the criminal justice system will never be a long term profitable venture — the bottom feeders and vultures have moved on torward finding new money.

They are now eyeing  the costs of law enforcement, calling for a wholesale reduction of criminal penalties. This thinly disguised attack on law enforcement is a political game changer in that it is an bad idea wrapped in reasonableness. The sneakiest of the sneak plays.

The powerful people who helped lure millions to this country to lower labor costs have decided to send them home. The people who bankrolled the private jail industry now want the money from public safety budgets in your city, your county diverted away.

They also look at your pension, your retirement, your health care benefits  and now believe you’re your benefit package is  too rich and needs to be destroyed.

Open insults from the public regarding  your risk, your sacrifice, your service to your community are  just part of the overall new norm. Claiming that the police mentality in this country is anti-minority, becoming militarized are new tools in the public relations arsenal to switch you from “good guy who risks all to protect and serve” to “testosterone-pumped racist with anger issues.”

Claiming that your job is not all that dangerous after all combined with the massive plan to decriminalize makes the current political climate very volatile.

The demographics of Texas are experiencing a hyper explosion.

People from across the globe are pouring in to Texas and with very different attitudes toward basic issues connected to law enforcement.

It’s clear that your profession, your rights and you as an officer are now under full scale attack.

You have to be more discerning than ever in your political connections as an officer, union member and citizen.

This next statewide election is very important and the next legislative session in Austin is of even more importance.

That’s why we have developed a brand-new legislative strategy that will be unveiled to members and local union leaders at our biennial workshop held in conjunction with our convention in November in San Antonio.

Changing political conditions deserve new strategies and tactics. We’ll be ready.

Stay tuned.

Charley Wilkison is the executive director of CLEAT.


They don’t just want to take away your Taser, they want to permanently alter policing

Several months ago, a rural Central Texas Deputy Sheriff who was working as a school officer used his Taser on a student. As a result of the shock, the student fell backward, hit his head and later went into a coma.

There was an immediate outpouring of anger against the deputy and an equal outpouring of sympathy for the student and his family. The family retained legal counsel, school officials apologized and social media exploded. There was also a video of the incident. It was played over and over and over on the national news. The ethnicity of the student was different from that of the white deputy.

The national media came to the hospital and the small town where it happened and interviewed anyone who would speak with them.  It wasn’t long before the media  began calling CLEAT. I was working out of town, so the CLEAT public affairs division assured the reporters that the deputy wasn’t a CLEAT member and we had no information that they didn’t already have.

However, as the situation turned political, the CBS national evening news crew kept calling. There were two reasons: 1) The deputy’s statewide union refused to be interviewed on camera. 2) CLEAT has been the organization that has spent years in the state Capitol defending your right to use a stun gun.

When I got to the CLEAT State Headquarters, the CBS news team from New York were camped out in my office. The first questions were national in scope. Then came the questions about the specific Texas case. I defended the honor of the deputy although I didn’t know any facts of the case. That’s what CLEAT does.

We’re not afraid of the national media and we always take the side of the working law enforcement personnel.

I stood my ground  as a police apologist for Taser use; they’ve saved lives and officer injuries are down. So are the injuries to those being arrested.

I have been a strong advocate for the local control of Taser training and operating procedures.  I’ve always believed the best Taser Use Policy will be in the General Order written for a law enforcement agency headed by a police chief answering to an elected city council or a Sheriff elected by the voters.

CLEAT has always pushed back against having a statewide law enforcement Taser Use policy handed down by the state legislature.

As the questions intensified, I realized why they wanted to speak with me. During the past legislative session in 2013, CLEAT testified in opposition to a moratorium on the deployment of stun guns in schools. The reporter hammered me pretty hard on our position of supporting the use of Tasers, period. And she was pretty pushy about why law enforcement officers assigned to schools need them at all.

In the end, it got kind of testy, but I hoped the takeaway for the viewer of the CBS Evening News was that if you have Texas cops in your school—they will have their Taser. No question about it.

If you don’t want a real Texas Peace Officer in your school, hire a security guard. Or have the parents take turns walking around guarding the school. Hire babysitters if you want.

The school belongs to the taxpayers and the local school board is elected. So, do whatever you want. But if you hire or assign an officer to work a school, we want he or she to have all the tools they need to be able to do their job and win the peace.

While this was happening, there were middle school reading assignments going out across the state strongly criticizing the use of Tasers in schools. In fact, the CLEAT Executive Board unanimously passed a resolution that we sent to the Texas Education Agency protesting the strong didactic language and the leading questions that would cause students to believe officers were somehow the bad guys for simply bringing their equipment to work.

It seems relatively clear that the far left and the far right are joining forces to create a super libertarian-leaning bloc that fully intend to weaken your arrest authority and jurisdictional rights.

The left will continue to beat the drum that Tasers are used far too often on minorities, people of low income, and  people of color. While the far right will work the other side of the street warning of a police state, erosion of individual rights and even push for schools to be Taser free.

The 2015 Legislative Session in Texas will be one in which Texas Peace Officers will see major attacks against your technological advances as well as your authority to do your job.

My advice is to cling to your Taser, your gun and whatever religion you have left. Stay tuned.

Charley Wilkison is the Executive Director of CLEAT

We won’t stand quiet when it comes to your private information and your family’s safety

Keeping the fight alive for protecting the private information of ALL peace officers in Texas

Thirty five years ago, CLEAT fought a big political battle to secure Texas Peace Officers’ personal and private information. We wanted your data shielded from the criminals you pursue, apprehend and bring to justice.

And as a result of that fight, it is now illegal for a political subdivision, law enforcement agency or governmental entity to release the home address or personal information of any Texas law enforcement personnel. In our view, the law should be strengthened, not challenged.

Over the past 20 years that I’ve been at CLEAT, we have witnessed several nefarious attempts to weaken that law. We’ve beaten back every attack and won.

In fact, for the past several years we’ve attempted to further strengthen the law by proposing that your information be redacted from county Tax Assessor/Collector rolls. That battle continues.

But the latest attack on your privacy leaves us scratching our head.

A few days ago the Arlington Municipal Police Officers Association, an affiliate of TMPA, filed suit in a Tarrant County District Court demanding that the City of Arlington release home addresses of all Arlington police officers to a private business, the American Arbitrators Association. This was done in an effort to hold an internal, police department election in hopes of making the Arlington Police Officers Association the official collective bargaining agent.

In other words, this move to force the city to give up police officers’ home addresses and private information was done solely to attempt to beat the local union, the Arlington Police Association, out of its position as the current collective bargaining agent. It’s simply hard to believe.

In all of our history, CLEAT has never ever filed a suit to obtain the private addresses of law enforcement officers or ever sought to put one officer’s family at risk for political gain. We believe this shameful behavior goes against the core values of any real law enforcement union.

We’ve always supported every civil service election, every pay referendum and every collective bargaining election—regardless of union affiliation. We’ve always believed the greater good of the individual officer weighed heavier than what union he or she was affiliated with.

It’s behavior like this lawsuit that explains why the CLEAT Executive Board broke off merger talks with TMPA in 2010. Yes, there are a few things that are still sacred in law enforcement and an officer’s private information and his/her family’s residence is still one of them. Your privacy and your family’s security come first, no matter which union card you carry in your wallet.

Rest assured, CLEAT will do whatever is legally necessary to protect ALL of the fine officers in Arlington and anywhere else they might be put at risk. We care about their privacy and their family’s security more than we do about who sits at the bargaining table with the city.

And we will fight TMPA or any other organization that attempts to strip away your right to privacy that could put the security of you and your family at risk. You have my word.

Charley Wilkison is the Executive Director of CLEAT