Celina CPA 3

Judge Jay Bender wants Celina Citizens Police Academy students to understand just what police officers cannot do.

That’s the main point of the legal-based class he teaches on Thursday, March 31, as part of the third installment of the Celina Citizens Police Academy program.

Judge Bender serves as presiding judge at Collin County Court at Law 6, and his class with the CPA aims to give students a foundation of understanding police affairs from a legal perspective. That includes learning about burdens of proof and the differences between “reasonable suspicion,” “probable cause” and “beyond a reasonable doubt.” It also includes looking at the structure of Texas courts, including the Texas Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Included in the lesson is an extensive look at the 4th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, where Judge Bender says is the crux of what police cannot do. Walking through the amendment, class members learn about what the amendment entails and how it applies, such as through a traffic stop. Students also learn about the rules for searches, as well as exceptions and exclusions.

The discussion also includes looking at the 5th and 6th constitutional amendments, looking at the Miranda Warning, and discussing greater protections through Texas law.

For Judge Bender, establishing what police can and cannot do helps students understand their rights, but it also helps to drive another point home: the intention behind protections is not to make police “sit and contemplate” what to do in the heat of the moment, especially since some situations the police deal with involve life and death situations.

“We give them training and make them become certified so that they are prepared, but in the heat of the moment, we don’t make them sit there and contemplate whether or not they can do (something),” he said. “We analyze it after the fact, because we don’t want to put them in a dangerous position.”

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