April 15, 2013
by Stephen Benavides
Within days after the shooting death of James Harper by Dallas Police Officer Brian Rowden, Dallas Police Chief David Brown made a series of policy change proposals aimed at stopping the increasing number of officer involved shootings. During 2012 those shootings reached the historic level of 1 shooting every 3 weeks, according to Attorney Michael Lowe. During the same year Dallas Police, and hence the City of Dallas taxpayers, paid out a total of $1.5 million in excessive force suits. These payouts did not include high profile cases such as Tobias Mackey who was shot 9x and was unarmed, or James Harper who was shot 3x and was unarmed. Listed below are those proposed policy changes:
1. Formalize a process of concurrent investigative review with the FBI Civil Rights Office of all officer involved shootings
2. Implement a more comprehensive Response to Resistance reporting system
Response to Resistance report details the actions a suspect took against an officer and the steps an officer was required to take to overcome this resistance. A comprehensive reporting system will allow for a more detailed analysis of incidents involving violence against officers and their response. Information gained will assist in developing and refining tactics, training and policy. The report will also provide public transparency regarding the amount of force officers take in the performance of their duties.
3. Develop a foot pursuit policy
A formalized foot pursuit policy enhances officer safety by providing officers with a foundation on which to make decisions during these high risk activities with the intent of reducing hazardous consequences and preventing, when possible, the escalation of enforcement action into lethal force confrontations.
4. Re-implement the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) Review Team (Dash-cams)
5. Implement a mandatory electronic control weapon (Taser) training policy for all officers
6. Enhance the Department’s consensual search policy to include the requirement
for a written and/or recorded consent
7. Research best practices that have come from critical incidents or institutional failures in public safety from around the nation
In recent years several major city police departments have been placed under consent decrees. The Dallas Police Department proposes to research the positive practices and policies that have been developed as a response to these failures as a way to improve our own training, policy, officer safety and service delivery. Included in this step will be a review of the recommendations stemming from the 1988 Congressional Hearings that occurred in Dallas.
8. Assemble a special Community Policing Strategic Team of officers for the Dixon Circle community
You can assume from the lack of a full public relations blitz touting the implementation of one, or any of these policies, that none of these policies have come to fruition. The promises made to a community up in arms were used as a tactic to suppress public outrage from the James Harper shooting, but also at assuaging anger built up over the decades long pattern of No-Bill’s for the Officers involved. It is a sad sad day when a District Attorney and a Police Chief put the interests of the power elite first, rather than there minority brethren, and that is exactly what this is. You would have to go back to the days of “The Accommodation: The Politics of Race in an American City”, written by Jim Schutze, to see a people so mercilessly sold out in order to maintain one’s position in the system. The once hidden underbelly of the local power structure is now exposed and trotted out for all to see, and every one wants a piece, including Police Chief David Brown. To say the least, he is weak on issues that are important to communities in South Dallas, some of which are listed above. In order to verify this, I have submitted a series of Open Record Requests to the Dallas Police. I have listed those requests as submitted below.