SAN ANTONIO – When someone dies while officers are in the process of making an arrest or that person is in custody, the state or local agency is required to file a custodial death report with the Texas Office of the Attorney General.
The report has been required since Sept. 1, 2015.
"These reports play a vital role in providing transparency between law enforcement and the public by requiring custodial deaths to be properly reported, investigated, and filed with the OAG for public access," said Kayleigh Lovvorn, a spokesperson for the OAG. "The summaries included with the reports have no average length or length requirements. That is left to the reporting agency to determine the appropriate amount of information to include satisfying the reporting requirement."
While the OAG collects the report and posts it online, it appears that is all it does.
"The implementation of the online reporting form and posting of the database was not required by a bill but was implemented for the purpose of improving the efficiency of the reporting requirement and for transparency and easier access to the information by the public," Lovvorn said.
With some exceptions, the reports are required to be filed within 30 days of the incident. Deaths that do not occur in "actual custody of the peace officer, executions, and deaths occurring the custody of a federal agent or agency" are not required to be reported.
"We do not perform independent press searches or audits to determine if law enforcement agencies are not complying with the requirement to file custodial death report," Lovvorn said.
The office also requires state and local agencies to file a report when peace officers are involved in shootings and when they are hurt or killed.