Why Are Dallas' Police Officers So Pissed?

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The Dallas Police Associations' (that's its insignia above) voluntary survey showed that not very many officers are satisfied with their job right now.
Ron Pinkston, the Dallas Police Association president, says the results caught even him off guard. According to a survey the DPA commissioned, 80 percent of the nearly 1300 members who responded to the online questionnaire rated the Dallas Police Department's morale as either "low" or the "lowest it's ever been."

"I knew it was low," Pinkston said last week. "I didn't realize it was so devastatingly low."

According to Pinkston, part of the reason it's so low is because the department is not allowing police officers to do their jobs. The survey suggests that most of the officers who responded feel the same way -- 71 percent "believe they are not allowed to perform police duties that the citizens of Dallas expect."

A main complaint among several, Pinkston said, concerns the policy related to chasing down suspects on foot. There are several things an officer must consider before she or he starts to chase. According to the policy, they include if the officer is alone, if the suspects outnumber the police and if "the dangers of pursuing in inclement weather, darkness, or reduced visibility conditions" exist.

Also, an officer should discontinue a foot chase if "the pursuing officer loses more than momentary visual contact with the suspect and becomes unsure of the suspect(s) whereabouts or continued direction of travel." Pinkston said this means an officer should stop chasing if a suspect turns a corner.

"We should be catching bad guys without a second thought," Pinkston said, "because we get hurt when we have second thoughts."

The document (which you can see in full below) states these criteria are in place for officer and public safety. Pinkston said it prevents officers from doing the job the public expects them to do.

A police spokesman wrote in an email that Chief Brown tasked an assistant chief to work with the four unions on "updating the foot pursuit policy. They have met once and tossed around suggestions."

He added: "Chief Brown has neither seen the survey nor the results but he has continued to work hard with all of the associations and is willing to do whatever he can to contribute to improving the morale of officers -- especially in the areas of policies which seem to be a major concern."

See also:
- Police Chief David Brown Wants to Do Away with Dallas' Race-Based Police Associations
- David Brown Is Making Dallas Safer Through Smart Policing, but Not Without Controversy

Pinkston said he's compiling a list of suggestions of departmental changes, including one to the foot-pursuit policy, and will send it to Chief Brown in the upcoming weeks. He said he hopes the changes will be implemented and that they will improve the low morale.

Richard Todd, the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police president, cited a poor workplace environment as a reason for low morale. As an example, he told the story of one patrol officer who was investigated for going AWOL.

Struggling through a divorce and suffering from a migraine, the officer called in to take the day off but didn't directly speak to a supervisor. Instead, he told a person at the front desk who wrote a note, a common and acceptable practice, Todd said. When a supervisor found out he hadn't directly notified a supervisor, he was cited for the failure and suspended for three days without pay, Todd said. The officer also didn't have enough time off for a whole day.

There are about 3,400 Dallas police officers, and 2,600 belong to the DPA (officers can join multiple unions). The officers who responded to the union's survey represent about 37 percent of the department. Pinkston said he was "very satisfied" with that number. "I don't think you get this great of a turnout if people aren't so upset," he said. (You can see the full survey below.)

Cletus Judge, the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas president, had not seen the results of the DPA's survey when asked about them Thursday afternoon. But, in response to our question about the department's allegedly low morale, he said, "A lot of officers aren't upset -- but they're concerned about the lack of movement."

The majority of officers, he said, are assigned to patrol, meaning they're the ones that respond if you call 911. When summer crime heats up, Judge said, it's hard for officers to transfer out of patrol, and the inability to transfer brings down morale. Judge said his union will survey its own members soon.

Three officers spoke to Unfair Park on the condition of anonymity. They feared, if their names were printed, there would be retribution in the form of transfers to undesirable units, to the overnight shift, or to a patrol area far away from their house. All three said they did not believe Chief David Brown had their backs.

One officer, who has been at the department for nearly 20 years, said he would be "scared" to be back on patrol right now. If he made a mistake in a situation on the street where a split-second decision was required, the officer felt that Chief Brown would not be on his side.

Another officer used the incident at Dixon Street two summers ago, when an officer shot a convicted drug dealer after a foot-chase and three fights, as an example. Brown didn't side with the police officer, he said, and was more interested in appeasing the people in the neighborhood. The new foot-chase policy was implemented because of this incident.

See also:
- After a Deadly Shooting by Dallas Police, A South Dallas Neighborhood Shows Up and Speaks Out
- DPD Releases More Details on Fatal Police Shooting

"If you don't have to deal with all the crud," the officer said, "it's a great job."

He added: "Are we high-priced report-takers or police officers?"

DPD Foot Pursuit Policy

2014 DPD Morale Survey Results

Send your story tips to the author, Sky Chadde.

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Ice cream for everyone should cheer them up!

observist topcommenter

Other morale-killing DPD policies:

- you are not a member of an occupying army in a foreign country, nor are you a warrior overclass entitled to intimidate and harass citizens at will. 

- must have the right address before commencing no-knock home invasion

- should refrain from killing family pets

- may not perform roadside cavity search based on a supposed whiff of marijuana

- when performing cavity searches of multiple innocent citizens, must change gloves between searches

- may not shoot unarmed schizophrenics sitting on chairs in the middle of the street

- may not drive drunk and crash into civilian vehicles

- must be more discreet in seizing cash and assets from innocent motorists

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

The survey is bogus.  It does not ask specifics.  And, the results are conflicting.  70 to 85 percent say they can't do their jobs the way they were trained to do them, that they're not supported by the leadership, and that morale is the lowest ever.  Yet, 70 per cent are not looking for another job and plan to spend the entirety of their career with the DPD. 


I can tell you why they're really pissed... why their morale is low... and the officers will only tell you this in confidence, and not when their name is printed in a story: It's because their Chief's son is a cop-killer and they believe that his son was given an officer escorted funeral procession over the deceased officer.


If they don't like the way things are ? They can Vote in a council and a mayor who will comply with their wishes (LARGE SMILEY FACE)..


In government work no one likes the boss


The three-day suspension for AWOL is worthy neither of union intervention nor elevation to "proof" of low morale. Sounds like an employee and his boss got crosswise on a minor thing, and the boss always wins in those cases. Next time talk directly to the boss -- end of story. IOW, Really?! that's all you got?!

Pinkston comes up with the most logically precarious, outlier scenarios to make what could be a major point. Last week, he was claiming exemption from citizen filming because of possible gang-sneak up from behind-kidnapping fantasy.


I am glad that our police chief doesn't "have [their] back," if having the officers' back means automatically assuming the officer is right without reviewing a shred of evidence or hearing from a single witness.  Of course, that's exactly what the cops expect of every other cop, from the chief on down.


Did anyone ask them if they like being the only city employees getting an across the board 4 1/2% raise?  How'd that affect morale?


@observist You dont understand, if the Police were allowed to do what they want when they want then they could totally catch more criminals.  Quit being such a public nuisance and bothering the Police with things like "rights" and "decency."

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@observist Wasnt the cavity search problem a Highway Patrol issue. you can add, must not discharge gun through floorboard of cop car while drunk



That's one of those honor grudges that festers deep and long (hello Middle East), and I can't say I blame them, if indeed that's a real, present-day issue.


@wcvemail Plus, the report says he didn't have a full day of leave to take even if he'd told the right person. It's frustrating but taking personal days you don't have will get you in trouble at any job, not just DPD.

observist topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin @observist  You got me there - I tend not to pay close attention to the specific denomination of law enforcement abuser.

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