Dallas Police Chief Announces Policy Shifts After Fallout from James Harper Shooting
On the Dallas Police Department's Facebook page this afternoon, Chief David Brown announced in a lengthy post measures to "positively impact officer safety and improve public trust and confidence."
The announcement comes in the wake of the July 24 shooting death of James Harper and a spate of other officer-involved shootings this year. Brown's post includes a slightly more detailed narrative of the events leading to Harper's death and statistics on the number of officer-involved shootings.
The takeaway, though, is that the department is shifting how it prepares for and handles those shootings. Brown proposes eight measures:
1. Formalize a process of concurrent investigative review with the FBI Civil Rights Office of all officer involved shootings
This step will help reassure the public that the Dallas Police Department is conducting a detailed and comprehensive investigation and that the findings are based upon facts uncovered by the investigation. The Police Department has requested the FBI to conduct this type of review on several occasions, the most recent of which is the James Harper shooting.
2. Implement a more comprehensive Response to Resistance reporting system
A 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
The DVR Team had been temporarily inactive while a panel of Police Deputy Chiefs reviewed the proper role for the Team. The dash cam video reviews conducted by this team can serve as a training tool for the Department while building public confidence that the Department proactively examines officer performance to ensure compliance with departmental and public expectations.
5. Implement a mandatory electronic control weapon (Taser) training policy for all officers
Currently, all officers that are trained with an electronic control weapon are required to carry one if available.
6. Enhance the Department's consensual search policy to include the requirement for a written and/or recorded consent
Implementing this step will create greater public confidence in the consensual searches performed by Dallas Police Officers, protect officers against false allegations of illegal search and bolster court cases where the search is critical to proving the charge.
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
This step will create a special team of officers responsible for addressing chronic crime and underlying quality of life issues present in the Dixon Avenue community while opening sustainable communications with this neighborhood to build trust between the residents and the Police Department. The Police Athletic League will play a vital role in this team effort to provide constructive alternatives for youth in the area. If successful, this concept will serve as a model for effecting positive change in other communities with similar crime and quality of life issues.