Discomfort Over Dallas PD's Crackdown on Cop Shootings Spreads to Politicians

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On Monday, Dallas Police Chief David Brown briefed the City Council on changes the department's use-of-force training regimen. Before, training sessions were required once every two years; now, it's quarterly or bi-monthly. To oversee the training, Brown added several high-ranking officers to oversee the "use of force team."

The overhaul, the latest in Brown's 17-month-old crackdown on police shootings, received tepid reviews from the leaders of two of DPD's main unions, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Dallas Police Association. They took issue with the use-of-force team's structure ("management doesn't go out on the street and protect the citizens, the ground officers do that") but mainly treated it as another shallow attempt by Brown to cater to public outrage over recent cop shootings (see: Bobby Gerald Bennett, Clinton Allen, Kelvion Walker) at the expense of the rank and file.

See also: Dallas Police Chief's Crackdown on Trigger-Happy Cops Leaves Many Fuming

But that's not what DPA president Ron Pinkston and FOP president Richard Todd are kvetching about. They're arguing that Brown's changes to the use-of-force policy, and his crackdown on officers who pull the trigger in questionable circumstances, have their members walking on eggshells.

Here's Todd: "They're going to be so worried about whether they're going to get in trouble that they're not going to react. They need to know about what levels of force they can use and when they should act."

And here's Pinkston in the letter he wrote to interim Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez: "No longer can an officer quickly drive to a man with a gun, robbery in progress or domestic abuse call because the officer no longer believes he/she can use deadly force, without fear of being terminated."

To buy this line of argument, you first have to accept the premise that officers who find themselves in a life-or-death situation will pause long enough to worry about the career implications of firing their weapon that it will put them and the public at risk.

Chief Brown doesn't buy it:

But politicians who attended a closed-door DPA meeting on Tuesday are lending it credence. State Representative Jason Villalba was careful in his comments to Fox 4 but expressed sympathy with the position of the police unions.

"With these new policies they have implemented you have this distinction between what is fear and reasonable fear," he said. "So the officer must have reasonable fear in order to utilize deadly force. But in a reasonable fear situation, who determines that?"

City Councilman Rick Callahan, who represents Pleasant Grove, took a similar line. "They're obviously concerned about the policy where they don't think they can go and freely do their jobs," he said. "I think there's a sense of hesitancy."

There's room to argue about the substance of Brown's changes, but given DPD's track record, might a bit more hesitancy be called for?

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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26 comments
codyclemmons
codyclemmons

Police should not even have the right to unionize.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

And here's Pinkston in the letter he wrote to interim Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez: "No longer can an officer quickly drive to a man with a gun, robbery in progress or domestic abuse call because the officer no longer believes he/she can use deadly force, without fear of being terminated."


I'm not sure I'm following -- is Pinkston calling cops cowards or extortionists?  Because it's one or the other. 

mcdallas
mcdallas

I will support this policy until I d...


never mind.

Xx0xX
Xx0xX

Dallas already in-joys having the worst school system in north Texas, The worst fire department in north Texas, really high property taxes, oh and a police department that everyone knows will not be there when they need them. what a great place this is.  


There is a stop light camera near my house that i personally see rack up $300-400 per light change during the day. That's roughly $42,000 in an 8hr work day. We should put that money towards these services instead of piece of crap politicians pockets. 

lebowski300
lebowski300

"Everyone knows that arms up is just deadly trickery." - Dallas Police Department Training Manual

WylieH
WylieH

So... this is A.C. Gonzalez' area of responsibility:  what does he have to say? 

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Don't you understand that taking away cops' ability to blaze away indiscriminately and suffer nought will kill recruiting?

zerromi
zerromi

"the officer no longer believes he/she can use deadly force, without fear of being terminated"

GOOD. That's how it should be.

James080
James080

Perhaps the DPD should raffle off the opportunity to shoot an unarmed suspect, and use the profits to protect the rest of the unarmed suspects at large in Dallas.

jmckee3
jmckee3

The fact that they are more worried that they are going to get in trouble for unnecessarily murdering someone that the gravity of murdering an unarmed person not posing a danger says everything

gm0622
gm0622

Well, they could take use of force training classes from the Fullerton PD I guess.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Ya, pinky is just pushing back hard, so final result is in the middle, but I do agree, his logic is so flawed he should be slapped, and busted down.

Should I publish here my email to him last month?

cawnlu
cawnlu

Really?  So officers should either use deadly force to protect themselves, or someone else, but they will be fired? The other choice being that they do nothing, and still have a job....if they are alive when it's over? Idiotic....

ghkyluhhje
ghkyluhhje

@zerromi I agree, although I would take it a step farther: all officers should expect that if they use deadly force on an unarmed civilian, they should get the death penalty like everyone else. That's the only way you can keep cops from committing murder and expecting to get away with it.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Good one James. My cubicle mates are wondering why I am laffin.

ghkyluhhje
ghkyluhhje

@cawnlu You have just committed a logical fallacy known as the false dichotomy. No one is suggesting that cops are to avoid deadly force when their lives are in danger. In all of the shootings that prompted this crackdown, cops shot unarmed civilians, mostly because it was convenient. It's corruption, plain and simple, and the crackdown is intended to curtail corruption on the force.

cawnlu
cawnlu

I agree that officers need to know that they may be terminated for wrongdoing….that goes without saying. However, that is not the statement that you made. If you have the experience that you say you have, then you are aware that officers must be completely clear about the use of force policy, force-on-force tactics, and when the use of force will be justified. There is no time to look it up, call a meeting, or get an opinion from the courts when the time comes to use deadly force. When officers are faced with a deadly force situation they should not spend 1 nanosecond worrying about liability or their careers. They should be focused on stopping the threat, protecting themselves, and protecting the public. If officers are more worried about liability then stopping the deadly threat, then there is an organizational lack of training and leadership in their use of force policy.

If you did in fact run an agency then you understand that a culture of officers who are too afraid to act because of unfair treatment by command staff is just as ineffective as a culture that lacks organizational control. Personal responsibility is absolutely crucial (and I did not need to look that word up as you so arrogantly directed me to), but there needs to be leadership and training to address the concerns that the DPD rank and file are voicing. I too have a great deal of experience in these policy and training issues.

ghkyluhhje
ghkyluhhje

@cawnlu Wrong again. It's called "personal responsibility". Look it up. You need to know that if you step out of line, you may lose your job. Full disclosure, I ran a large metro police force for years, and am a highly decorated marine veteran. So I know what I'm talking about. Amateurs like you need to stay in your armchairs and let those of us who are qualified run the policy.

cawnlu
cawnlu

You said,

"the officer no longer believes he/she can use deadly force, without fear of being terminated"

GOOD. That's how it should be.

Again, you are saying that officers should fear being terminated whether the use of force is justified or not. I'm not arguing that the last 2 shooting warranted termination, but making a blanket statement, or policy, based off of those two incidents is not the answer. Neither of those shootings indicated "convenience." The first one was poor judgement and the second looks very much like an accidental discharge. S

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