Tag Archives: bargain

Realme GT review: Premium Android specs at a bargain price, so what’s the catch?

With so many Android devices filling stores shelves, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. However, that’s exactly what brand Realme has managed to do with the launch of its new GT smartphone. How has Realme managed this feat? Well, the Shenzhen-based firm has stuffed some serious specs into their latest Android handset at a price that’s genuinely hard to believe. At time of writing, you can pop one of these smartphones into your online shopping basket for as little as £332, making this one serious bargain.

So, is the Realme GT worth considering, or has the Chinese firm cut some corners to hit that ludicrously good price tag? Express.co.uk has been putting this phone to the test and here’s our full review.

There’s no denying that the Realme GT is incredible value for money. For less than half the price of a Samsung Galaxy S21, you’ll be treated to a device that includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor – the fastest chipset you’ll find inside any Android smartphone right now. While it’s true that Qualcomm is launching its new 888+ chip soon, no devices are currently using that slightly upgraded chip, so the budget Realme GT can still gloat about packing one of the best processors available.

Most handsets with the flagship Snapdragon series cost in excess of £700 and it’s incredible that Realme has managed to squeeze the 888 into a smartphone that’s so ludicrously cheap.

And it’s not only that pricey processor that makes the smartphone feel fast and insanely underpriced. The Realme GT also includes a 6.43-inch Super AMOLED display, which is not only sharp and bright but also silky smooth thanks to its fabulous 120Hz refresh rate. Not even the £999 iPhone 12 Pro can top that as Apple is still shipping phones with a measly 60Hz refresh rate.

You’ll also find a reliable fingerprint scanner tucked under that slick display, which can unlock the device in a flash. Hiding the fingerprint scanner under the glass screen means Realme can push the screen to the very edge of the case, meaning there are minimal bezels.

Elsewhere, there’s a 4,500mAh battery which just about lasts a day, but users can refill it to 100% in around 30 minutes, thanks to the nifty 65W SuperDart charging. Realme includes the fast charger you need, while other brands, including Apple, don’t even include any mains charger.

Realme GT can take advantage of the latest and greatest 5G data speeds enabling downloads to be blasted onto the device at speeds in excess of 300Mbps. That’s almost five times faster than the average home broadband speeds across the UK right now.

Flip over the Realme GT, there’s a triple rear camera system that features lens technology from Sony. This set-up includes a 64MP main lens along with an 8MP Ultra-Wide camera and Macro option for close up shots.

Overall the photography experience is pretty good with pictures looking bright and full detail. There’s also a bunch of fun effects, filters and all the usual settings such as manual mode and AI Scene Enhancement.

Videos can be shot in 4K quality and image stabilisation keeps your home movies looking shake and wobble-free. It’s a solid camera, but it’s by no means the best and it can struggle at times, especially when the lights get low. In fact, during our tests, we found the Night Mode is pretty much useless especially when compared to more expensive rivals, which can make gloomy night shots look as bright as day without the flash blinding everyone in the photo.

The camera is one area where the Realme GT’s bargain price tag starts to show as it’s definitely not one of its strongest points. And it’s not the only niggle we have with this phone.

From head-to-toe, the overall case design does pretty plasticky and, unless you opt for the bright yellow model, it all looks pretty bland too.

Realme also bundles way too much bloatware on the GT, which means you’ll have to spend quite a lot of time deleting the endless selection of pointless apps pre-loaded on your new phone during the set-up process.

While the high refresh-rate screen might be stunning to look at, it’s marred by a weird auto-brightness setting that has a weird habit of being way too dim. Not only that, but there’s no wireless charging, which isn’t a surprise considering the price, which some may find annoying.

If none of that bothers you, then you’re going to be seriously impressed with your new purchase …although buying the GT is a bit of an odd experience.

Right now, the only place to grab one right now is from a site called AliExpress, which is an online retail service based in China. It’s been around since 2009 and is clearly an official store, but it’s simply not as easy as popping one in your Amazon basket, which is where most other Realme phones.

Realme GT review: Final Verdict

FOR: Ultimate power from Snapdragon 888 • Cheap price • Great screen • Fast charging
AGAINST: Hard to buy one • Camera could be better • Some models are a little bland

There’s no doubt that the Realme GT is a seriously impressive phone at a ridiculously low price. The fact it lands with a Snapdragon 888 processor, fast-charging, a high refresh-rate display, and a 4,500mAh battery …for less than £350 still boggles our mind.

However, as you might expect given the price, there are some minor niggles, including the bucketloads of bloatware preinstalled, the lack of charging, and lacklustre camera – especially at night.

We can forgive Realme for most of these issues as the GT is an incredible phone for its £330 price. And if you’re looking to upgrade to a new Android handset and don’t want to break the bank, the Realme GT is a great choice.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Tech

EE v Vodafone v Three: Don't miss these bargain SIM deals as time is running out

If your phone contract has come to end and don’t fancy an upgrade to a new handset, then it’s a very good idea to make the switch over to a SIM-only plan. These deals will always be cheaper as they don’t include a fee for the handset. When you take out a smartphone plan, a chunk of the monthly price goes towards the cost of the handset, but once the deal ends you no longer need to fork out for those higher costs.

Crucially, if you don’t take the time to switch from a previous phone contract – or upgrade to a new handset – your network will continue to charge the same monthly bill, even though you’ve paid the full bill for the smartphone at the end of the 24-months contract.

All of the major networks offer SIM-only deals and right now there are some big bargains to be bagged, including offers that include fully unlimited data which means your Netflix binge should never come to a stuttering halt and you won’t be charged extra to add more internet access as it will never run out.

Perhaps one of the best unlimited data deals comes from Three, which is offering six months at half the usual price. That means you’ll pay just £10 per month for six months then £20 for the remainder of the contract. This deal also includes access to 5G speeds plus unlimited calls and texts.

SEE THE THREE DEAL HERE

Along with Three, Vodafone has also dropped the cost of its unlimited Max SIM which also features all-you-can-eat 5G data. It now costs £25 per month which save £120 over the term of the contract.

Vodafone Max includes 51 roam-free destinations and the fastest speeds possible via the firm’s 5G network which could mean downloads are whizzed to the device at over 200Mbps. This Vodafone offer ends on July 25 so you’ll need to be quick

SEE THE VODAFONE DEAL HERE

Next up it’s SMARTY who is offering unlimited data at a discounted price. The Three-powered network has its SIM for just £18 per month which saves £2 off the standard price. You also get unlimited calls and texts plus there’s no long-term contract to sign meaning you can leave at any time. This SMARTY deal ends on July 13.

SEE THE SMARTY DEAL HERE

If your chosen network is EE then there’s a very tempting deal currently available via its website. There’s unlimited data, but the offer includes 160GB of fast 5G for just £20 per month which is pretty good considering EE is one of the pricer networks to join.

SEE THE EE DEAL HERE

There’s also a very similar offer from O2 with the network also dishing out 120GB of data for £20 although this deal also includes free Disney+ for six months.

SEE THE O2 DEAL HERE

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Morrisons launches bargain draught beer pump to pull pints at home ahead of big match

Multiple supermarkets and brands launched new products and deals ahead of the Euros 2020 football tournament, which kicked off last weekend. Some companies, like Morrisons, have introduced items especially for tonight’s England v Scotland match.

It is designed to fit any 5L keg.

However, the bargain product is available for a limited time only.

Another product that the supermarket has recently launched is the Mitec Mipix Mini Projector.

Costing, £70, this gadget allows fans to watch the game on a bigger and better screen than their normal television.

The Best of Europe Pizza is 14 inches in size and combines flavours associated with the biggest nations in the tournament, including Germany, Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

Divided into quarters, the pizza is topped with frankfurter sausages and red onion, chorizo and chargrilled peppers, mozzarella and pesto, and spicy peri peri chicken.

Additionally, there is the Hot Daddy Double Decker pizza, topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and hot chilli.

The second pizza, stacked on top, is loaded with spicy pepperoni, salami, and Monterey Jack Cheese.

Both pizzas cost £3.89 and are available to buy at Morrisons now.

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently, see more details here.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Life and Style Feed
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Kate Middleton travel: Bargain essential Duchess' hairdresser packs for foreign trips

According to Grazia, during the 2021 South East Asia trip Ms Cook Tucker’s £300 per day bill was paid for by Prince Charles.

However, it isn’t just foreign jaunts that the high-end hairdresser is involved with.

In fact, Ms Cook Tucker has been involved in some major milestones in Kate’s life.

She was one of the first people to visit the Duchess after giving birth to her first child Prince George.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Texas police bargain their licenses to avoid prison. New bills could end those deals

Investigative Summary:
In the past six years, hundreds of Texas police officers and jailers facing felony charges have been given the opportunity to avoid prison by surrendering their law enforcement license in plea bargain agreements. KXAN investigations in 2019 and again in 2021 have found this process is widespread and hasn’t slowed, but new legislation at the state Capitol could upend the bargain system and change how the state handles troubled officers.

App users, tap here to explore this story’s multimedia elements

AUSTIN (KXAN) – After her coma, Michele Gonzales spent months relearning how to walk, eat and talk. The accident that nearly left her dead unfolded in seconds, as she walked across the parking lot of a south Austin gas station.

Video of the incident, captured at 2 a.m. on Feb. 8, 2018, shows Gonzales illuminated for a moment by the headlights of Adam Bryant Marsh’s Dodge pickup just before she’s hit.

Surveillance video shows the seconds before Adam Marsh ran over Michele Gonzales in a south Austin gas station parking lot Feb. 9, 2018. (Austin Police Department Photo)
Surveillance video shows the seconds before Adam Marsh ran over Michele Gonzales in a south Austin gas station parking lot Feb. 9, 2018. (Austin Police Department Photo)

Midway through a wide turn around the gas pumps, Marsh’s truck slams squarely into Gonzales, her head barely above the hood of his lifted pickup. The truck pops up twice, as Marsh’s front and back tires roll over and crush Gonzales’ body. Then, the truck is gone. Marsh, a 33-year-old Austin Independent School District police officer at the time, did not stop or call 911.

Gonzales will never fully heal. She was disfigured and continues to suffer medical problems, according to a pending civil lawsuit against Marsh.

Robert McCabe, an attorney representing Marsh, previously said Marsh never saw Gonzales and didn’t know he’d hit anyone. It wasn’t until weeks later, as the police searched for the truck and driver and news stations including KXAN began airing footage of the incident, that Marsh realized what had happened. He then turned himself in and voluntarily resigned from AISD PD, McCabe said.

Five months after the gas station incident, Marsh was indicted in Travis County on a third-degree felony — accident involving serious bodily injury — punishable by two to 10 years in prison.

Adam Marsh pleaded no contest to a third-degree felony and was sentenced to probation and lost his peace officer license for life. (Austin Police Department Photo)
Adam Marsh pleaded no contest to a third-degree felony and was sentenced to probation and lost his peace officer license for life. (Austin Police Department Photo)

But the sentencing judge didn’t order Marsh to serve any time behind bars. Instead, Marsh pleaded no contest and accepted a plea agreement that included three years deferred adjudication, 80 hours of community service and the permanent surrender of his peace officer license, barring him from ever working as a police officer in Texas again, according to court records.

Gonzales said the sentence was “not enough.”

“I want to know why I was treated like absolutely nothing, like my life had no meaning,” she said at Marsh’s January 2020 sentencing hearing. Gonzales has sued Marsh in civil court, and the case remains pending.

Marsh could not be reached for comment for this report. However, Marsh’s attorney provided a statement concerning the license surrender.

“The incident had no connection to his job as a peace officer. Despite that, for whatever reason, it was critically important to the complainant (Gonzales) in that case that Mr. Marsh not be a police officer any longer. Given the remaining favorable parameters of the plea offer that we negotiated, volunteering to permanently surrender his peace officers license was acceptable to Mr. Marsh. Jail time was never negotiated away in exchange for the surrender,” McCabe wrote in a statement to KXAN.

Austin ISD did not provide comment concerning Marsh’s tenure with the district or his resignation. “Only comment is to confirm that the officer is no longer an employee at AISD,” wrote Scott Thomas, AISD’s Assistant Director of Public Affairs and Operations, in an email responding to a request for comment.

Gonzales’ concern with the severity of Marsh’s sentence, and Marsh’s plea bargain involving the surrender of his peace officer license, is not isolated.

System of surrenders

In a 2019 investigation, KXAN reviewed nearly 300 permanent surrender cases and found most involved a criminal charge or allegation of criminal misconduct. In most cases, the accused officers and jailers negotiated plea bargains and rarely spent time behind bars. In some cases, officers were allowed to surrender their license to stop criminal investigations by their own department, meaning they were never arrested or charged with a crime.

In a follow up investigation, KXAN found 145 more permanent surrenders, from late 2018 though spring of 2021, follow a similar pattern. Peace officers charged with serious crimes — including felonies for violent offenses, sex crimes or abuses of official power — continue to bargain their badges and few serve time in prison.

Out of 145 cases, 109 officers took plea agreements. In 32 remaining cases, it is not clear if a plea agreement was reached or an officer faced jail time. KXAN found only seven cases in which a licensed officer was sentenced to jail or prison–three of those sentences were for three days in county jail, two were jail sentences of less than six months and only one case, a seven year sentence, involved prison.

BARGAINING THE BADGE: Officers accused of violent crimes, sex crimes, corruption

In Jefferson County a police officer working at Beaumont United High School was indicted in April 2019 for “deviate sexual intercourse” with a student. He was charged with improper relationship with a student, a second-degree felony punishable by two decades in prison. He accepted a plea deal, surrendered his license and got 10 years deferred adjudication. He was not sentenced to prison and was not required to register as a sex offender, according to court records.

In Brown County, a jailer was arrested for having sex with a person incarcerated in the jail. The jailer was charged with violating that person’s civil rights and faced up to two years behind bars for the state jail felony. The jailer took a plea deal, surrendered his license and received five years of deferred adjudication, according to court records.

The Texas Department of Public Safety estimates Alan Dieguez, an El Paso Police officer at the time, was driving 100 miles an hour on Interstate 35 when he hit the back of an 18-wheeler. DPS said Dieguez's blood alcohol level was 0.179. (Williamson County Jail Photo)
The Texas Department of Public Safety estimates Alan Dieguez, an El Paso Police officer at the time, was driving 100 miles an hour on Interstate 35 when he hit the back of an 18-wheeler. DPS said Dieguez’s blood alcohol level was 0.179. (Williamson County Jail Photo)

Many of these plea bargain cases have happened in Central Texas, as well. Alan Dieguez, a former El Paso police officer, was accused of speeding at approximately 100 mph with a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit and crashing his car into the back of an 18-wheeler on Interstate-35 in Williamson County on June 21, 2016.

The driver of the semi-truck that was hit, 56-year-old Dane Rutter, got out and was struck and killed by a separate 18-wheeler that lost control after hitting debris from the initial wreck. Investigators believe Rutter was trying to check on Dieguez and possibly render aid, according to district court records and state trooper dashcam video of the crash’s aftermath.

Rutter’s daughter, Michelle Postert, said her dad was a hunter, a fisherman, a trucker and an “awesome guy.”

“My father was very loved … He is very missed,” Postert said. “He was a person. He wasn’t just somebody that got ran over.”

Postert and her dad lived next door to one another in Stockdale, a small town about 40 miles southeast of San Antonio. Postert said they spoke daily. She was not surprised to learn her dad had exited his truck, apparently to help Dieguez, because he had been an EMT at one time.

“He would help anybody. If you were standing on the side of the road, he would stop and help you,” Postert said.

EXPLORE: Bargaining the Badge series shows how problem officers avoid prison

The Williamson County grand jury indicted Dieguez on a single count of intoxication manslaughter in October 2018. He faced between two and 20 years in prison, but a plea agreement with the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office allowed Dieguez to avoid prison.

“The case wasn’t strong enough for a conviction,” Dieguez told KXAN in an April 6 phone call. When asked why he decided to plead guilty in May 2019, Dieguez said he “Had a kid on the way” and “didn’t want to take the chances” of a prison sentence that could’ve stretched two decades.

“I had a 50/50 chance of getting sentenced by people who don’t know me and that’s a big risk,” Dieguez said in the call.

The judge sentenced Dieguez to eight years of community supervision and permanently stripped his peace officer license. In an unusual twist, KXAN’s investigation discovered Dieguez was sentenced to 120 days in the Williamson County Jail, but there is no record in either Williamson County or El Paso County of Dieguez serving that time.

For Postert, the punishment was never adequate.

“I think they let him go because he was a cop,” Postert said. “If it would have been you or I, I don’t believe we would have got the same treatment.”

Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick said the facts of the Dieguez case were more complicated than his being a police officer and the importance of his TCOLE license. Dieguez was technically not the person who directly killed Rutter, but “his actions set in place a chain of events that led to the victim’s death,” Dick said. He believes the state likely would have had trouble convincing a jury to convict Dieguez on an involuntary manslaughter charge related to Rutter’s death. Instead, they settled the case with a plea agreement.

The El Paso Police Department terminated Dieguez’s employment May 13, 2019 — five days after Dieguez pleaded guilty to the second-degree felony. The termination notice KXAN obtained from the department said Dieguez’s off-duty drunk driving crash in Williamson County and his guilty plea to intoxication manslaughter violated the city’s policies and regulations and “brought discredit to the department,” according to a termination notice signed by EPPD Chief Greg Allen.

‘Not cut out for this business’

Experts in police licensing and officials in district attorneys’ offices in Travis, Williamson and Bexar counties have told KXAN this system of plea bargains and permanent surrenders is a consequence of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement’s limited authority to revoke licenses.

Dick said taking an officer’s badge does become part of the calculation in handling these cases. But a better system would give that administrative authority to TCOLE. Dick acknowledged TCOLE can strip an officer’s license, but that “authority is very limited and used very infrequently.”

Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick wasn't in office when Alan Dieguez was indicted, he was in charge when his office negotiated Dieguez' plea agreement. (KXAN Photo/Jody Barr)
Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick wasn’t in office when Alan Dieguez was indicted, he was in charge when his office negotiated Dieguez’ plea agreement. (KXAN Photo/Jody Barr)

“I think if TCOLE were able to handle those problems, you would get a lot more immediate response from law enforcement agencies and you could really eliminate problem officers sooner and quicker and not jeopardize cases — not jeopardize the community,” Dick said. “The vast majority of police officers are doing it right. The vast majority of prosecutors are doing it right. But when prosecutors or police officers do something wrong, they need to be held to account. Otherwise, the public loses faith in everything we d — in our whole system.”

In a previous interview, former Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore, who lost her post in 2020, said taking police officers to a trial is a “huge gamble.” Losing at trial can mean those officers are free to go back to policing.

Representatives of the law enforcement community, like Kevin Lawrence, agreed that bad officers exist and should be removed from law enforcement. Lawrence is executive director of Texas Municipal Police Association, TMPA, a major police union in the state representing 30,000 municipal peace officers.

Kevin Lawrence, who heads the Texas Municipal Police Association, supports giving TCOLE more authority to sanction peace officers, but he wants to ensure due process rights for officers to appeal decisions that could end their law enforcement careers. (KXAN Photo/Jody Barr)
Kevin Lawrence, who heads the Texas Municipal Police Association, supports giving TCOLE more authority to sanction peace officers, but he wants to ensure due process rights for officers to appeal decisions that could end their law enforcement careers. (KXAN Photo/Jody Barr)

“Nobody hates a bad cop more than a good cop. And being a bad cop is not limited to just committing criminal offenses. There are some people who are just not cut out for this business,” Lawrence said.

But, he said, Texas should be cautious about giving TCOLE authority that could undermine officers’ due process rights. If TCOLE were given more authority to revoke a license, that process “should include due process, and it should include standardized provisions about what constitutes cause,” he added.

So, what do experts say the standards should, or could, be?

‘Where a lot of states fall down’

Mike Becar, executive director of the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, or IADLEST, says his organization provides the ideal standards for removing licenses from officers. Becar’s organization is made of state peace officer training and standards commissions, like TCOLE.

Those standards are no secret. IADLEST posts all of them online for the public, including how to handle decertification. TCOLE’s Executive Director, Kim Vickers, also serves as president of IADLEST.

Becar said his organization considers Arizona, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon and Florida to have the best current standards for decertification.

“What makes them have good legislation is they can decertify for pretty much any misconduct that an officer is involved in. That can be criminal or non-criminal,” Becar said. “That’s where a lot of states fall down. They can only decertify for criminal convictions.”

But, no other state we contacted had decertified nearly as many as Georgia. Since 2015, Georgia’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Council decertified 3,648 licensees. Georgia POST has the authority to investigate and sanction peace officers any time an officer is terminated, resigns in lieu of termination, is charged with a crime or loses rank over a demotion, according to state law.

Georgia, unlike Texas in most cases, does not require a conviction to take action against someone holding a police license.

‘Wandering officers’

TCOLE’s authority to permanently revoke a peace officer’s license is mostly confined to cases of officers convicted of felony or certain misdemeanors, or being placed on community supervision, according to state administrative code. There are some exceptions; for example, a license can be revoked for repeatedly failing to obtain continuing education, a dishonorable military discharge or making a false report to TCOLE.

The problem with restricting a licensing authority’s revocation power, Becar said, “is that an officer can commit a lot of misconduct that never rises to a felony.”

How law enforcement licenses can be like ‘get out of jail free’ cards for officers

When officers are fired rather than stripped of their license, they can continue working and move to another department that is often smaller, said Roger Goldman, a law professor at St. Louis University School of Law and a nationally recognized expert on police licensing.

Goldman called them “wandering officers,” referencing a term coined by two professors, Ben Grunwald and John Rappaport, in their 2020 study of the phenomenon of roving cops with troubled work histories. Goldman said he believes it is the largest study of the issue ever undertaken.

Grunwald and Rappaport examined 98,000 full time Florida law enforcement officers over a 30-year period, according to their Yale Law Journal article. They found an average of about 1,100 previously fired officers in any given year were working for a Florida law enforcement agency. Those fired officers struggled to find new work and typically moved to smaller agencies with fewer resources, the report found. It also said those smaller agencies tended to police areas with slightly larger communities of color.

“Wandering officers are more likely than both officers hired as rookies and those hired as veterans who have never been fired to be fired from their next job or to receive a complaint for a ‘moral character violation,’” according to the article. “These results suggest that wandering officers may pose serious risks, particularly given how difficult it is to fire a police officer.”

Goldman said it is the best interests of good officers to weed out “bad apples” that can bring disrepute on an agency.

Kim Vickers, executive director of TCOLE and President of IADLEST, echoed that sentiment.

“I may be a little blunt with this, but we’ve got people out there that don’t need to be wearing a badge and a gun, and I truly believe that in my heart.”
Kim Vickers, TCOLE executive director

“We’ve got to sit here, and our job is to regulate that, and we’re kind of hamstrung a little bit as to what we can do on some of that,” Vickers added.

Outside of an adjudication in a criminal case, Vickers said TCOLE has little authority to revoke an officer’s license. Though Vickers said he considers Texas a leader in law enforcement, “in this particular area, in my opinion, we’ve fallen behind.”

There are currently two bills working through the state legislature that could further empower TCOLE. Vickers said he is “excited” about potential improvements.

Should those bills pass, TCOLE could get more authority to delicense officers, but the bills face tough questions and opposition from some in the law enforcement community.

‘Toothless’ and ‘Broken’

State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, authored SB 485. The legislation would direct TCOLE to make policies for investigating licensed officers for disciplinary action, issue subpoenas, temporarily suspend a license on an emergency basis and revoke a license for “improper or unlawful acts in connection with employment as an officer that could result in a miscarriage of justice or discrimination.” The bill specifies a list of such acts that includes using excessive force on multiple occasions and several other potentially illegal acts.

Hinojosa’s bill has not gotten a public hearing as of mid-April.

Rep. John Cyrier’s bill, HB 1550, which also impact’s TCOLE’s regulator authority, has gotten a hearing.

Rep. John Cyrier presented House Bill 1550, a piece of legislation that calls for a 'Blue Ribbon Panel' to make recommendations on changes to TCOLE's authority. (Texas House of Representatives Photo)
Rep. John Cyrier presented House Bill 1550, a piece of legislation that calls for a ‘Blue Ribbon Panel’ to make recommendations on changes to TCOLE’s authority. (Texas House of Representatives Photo)

Cyrier, a Lockhart Republican, chairs the House Sunset Commission. That commission reviews state agencies and recommends improvements to them or abolishing ones that are no longer relevant. TCOLE has been in sunset evaluation, and Cyrier said his bill addresses problems discovered during that process.

At an April 1 hearing before the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, Cyrier testified on his bill. He said the Sunset Commission probe found TCOLE “has no meaningful role in enforcing standards of conduct or establishing disciplinary standards of conduct for law enforcement,” and “the state’s current regulation is toothless and fragmented with poor accountability, a lack of statewide standards and outdated training.”

In a word, Cyrier called TCOLE “broken.”

In this January 2021 interview with KXAN, Rep. John Cyrier discussed what he saw as a
In this January 2021 interview with KXAN, Rep. John Cyrier discussed what he saw as a “broken” Texas Commission on Law Enforcement based on the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission’s findings regarding the agency’s lack of authority to sanction problem peace officers in Texas. (KXAN Photo/Jody Barr)

Regarding changes to TCOLE’s ability to revoke a peace officer’s license, the main difference between the mechanics of two bills is that Hinojosa’s would directly enact statewide changes and bolster TCOLE’s authority.

On the other hand, Cyrier’s bill would not directly change TCOLE’s ability to decertify an officer. It would establish a “Blue Ribbon Panel” made up of mostly law enforcement interests that would take several months to study and make recommendations on “changes to the commission’s authority to discipline a license holder for violations of law or other misconduct.” That panel’s report to the legislature outlining recommendations would be due in June 2022.

Rep. James White, R-Hillister, chairman of the Homeland and Public Safety Committee, said he was concerned lawmakers would be “kicking the can down the road” by setting up a panel to study the problem rather than taking action during this session.

“We consider ourselves a blue ribbon committee,” White told Cyrier during an April 1, 2021 hearing on Cyrier’s Sunset bill.

“We’re hearing — and some of these people may be in the audience, they may be on the video stream, and they’re hurting right now. So, I need to be able to explain to them when is the kickoff of us having a restored TCOLE that is promoting and ensuring that our law enforcement officers … they’re performing constitutional law enforcement today, not after the Blue Ribbon Commission, OK?” White asked Cyrier during an April 1, 2021 hearing on Cyrier’s Sunset bill.

‘Direct attack on working cops’

Testimony at the hearing presented a mixed perception of the bill ranging from approval to concern to outright opposition.

A representative of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas said his organization supports Cyrier’s legislation but said the legislature should properly fund TCOLE to handle its duties.

Jeff Garner, a captain with the North Richland Hills Police Department, said, “we support TCOLE’S authority to revoke a peace officers license for egregious issues of misconduct, which are supported by investigation and thorough documentation.”

Jennifer Szimanski, a public affairs coordinator for Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, or CLEAT, testified in opposition to Cyrier’s bill. CLEAT is one of the largest police unions in the state.

DETAILS: State report finds regulation of Texas law enforcement is ‘toothless’

Cyrier’s bill would shift TCOLE from a licensing and training commission to more of an investigative agency, would restrict local agencies’ abilities and “invade the constitutional boundaries of cities, towns and counties,” Szimanski said.

“We’re in difficult times in the country, and if we want more law enforcement to do better, and if we want to avoid another George Floyd-type incident, we should be focused on developing and training our officers at a higher level,” Szimanski said. “All of the legislation we see this session is a direct attack on working cops and is punitive in nature. And, this bill is no different.”

Floyd, originally from Houston, died during an encounter in 2020 with Minneapolis police. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes. Video of Floyd’s death led to nationwide protests of police brutality. Chauvin is now on trial for murder.

But, while Szimanksi said the Floyd incident should make Texas officials focus more on training, Roger Goldman, of St. Louis University School of Law, said it is that specific incident that has catalyzed a desire in many states to enhance agencies like TCOLE and give them more power to delicense officers for misconduct.

Goldman said he has seen it “not just at the state level, but also the federal level: an interest in decertification because of the George Floyd incident.”

For example, leadership in the State of New York is considering making its decertification a state-level statute and process rather than a regulation handled at the local level, Goldman said.

“A majority of the states that decertify do not require a conviction, rather, commission of certain misconduct, like sexual misconduct, or an act of moral turpitude,” Goldman said. “That is the trend.”

Had TCOLE the ability to delicense officers for misconduct, many of the cases reviewed by KXAN may not have had the permanent surrender baked into the plea agreement. For example, in the case of Alan Dieguez in Williamson County, TCOLE may have stripped the former El Paso police officer’s license after his blood-alcohol level was found to be over twice the legal limit.

Without a change to Texas’ law, and TCOLE’s authority, that bargaining power Dieguez had will remain. The pattern KXAN discovered of hundreds of officers using their badges in plea deals will continue.

Director of Investigations & Innovation Josh Hinkle, Investigative Photojournalist Ben Friberg, Digital Executive Producer Kate Winkle, Graphic Artist Rachel Garza and Editor Eric Lefenfeld contributed to this report.

David Barer
This article originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Motorola's bargain moto G100 takes aim at Samsung's Galaxy A52 and A72

2021 is looking set to be another big year for flagship-killing smartphones. Proving this theory, Samsung revealed its new A52 5G and A72 devices last month, which boast fluid displays and huge batteries on a very small budget. Next up, Motorola wants a piece of the mid-range action with the firm revealing its latest Moto G100.
This new Android-powered phone is packed with features with Motorola including a huge 6.7-inch display, which also gets a cinema-style 21:9 aspect ratio. And that’s not all, as it packs a 90Hz high-refresh rate, which makes scrolling through the morning news silky smooth and stutter-free.

Motorola is also boasting that its new display offers a 25 percent larger colour range and HDR10 certification which should make the visuals appear pin-sharp and crystal clear.

Spin the G100 around and you’ll find a quad-camera tucked inside the rear case with this snapper offering numerous photographic treats such as improved night shots and better close-ups thanks to its Macro Vision technology.

And the new moto g100 introduces something called Dual Capture mode which basically allows you to record footage using both the rear and front-facing selfie camera at the same time.

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Boosting video even further is Audio Zoom technology. This uses advanced microphones to capture the audio of your subject while filtering out ambient noise and voices for a cleaner and more professional result.

Head under the hood, this phone is one of the first phones in the world to use the latest Snapdragon 870 5G Mobile Platform. This chip brings fast performance to the phone along with offering full access to speedy 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity.

Other extras include 8GB of memory, 128GB of built-in storage which can be boosted to 1TB when you add a microSD card. The moto g100 is also packed with a 5000 mAh battery that supports 20W TurboPower charging and there’s even a headphone port to plug in your favourite cans.

One final addition to the G100 is something called Ready For. This feature basically allows you to dock the phone with content then appearing on a big screen such as your telly. Motorola says Ready For will offer customers improved video calling along with being able to view apps, video content and games on a larger display.

If all of this sounds exciting then the new G100 will launch soon for £449.99 in the UK. That price even includes the new dock to facilitate Ready For.