The Dallas Police Department Is Replacing Its Old Stun Guns With Better Stun Guns

Categories: News

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hermanturnip
The Dallas Police Department is swapping its old Tasers for new-and-improved models.
In the next three to four months, all Dallas police officers on patrol will be equipped with new, smart Tasers that are safer than their predecessors, Chief David Brown said at Wednesday's City Council meeting. After the council approved a five-year deal with Taser International Inc. for the purchase and maintenance of Tasers, the department's 700 or so old Tasers will be replaced with 2,000.

"We haven't in the past had a lot of Tasers in our department," Brown said at a town hall meeting last month. "Because of the challenges with Tasers causing deaths early on, our department backed off of Tasers several years back."

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Arlington's City Council Won't Abolish Red Light Cameras, But Its Citizens Might

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Yousuf Fahimuddin
Arlington City Council member Robert Rivera can rattle off scores of reasons why his constituents think the city should pull the plug on its red-light cameras. They worry about Big Brother's growing omniscience and the privatization of policing, or object to the government making a revenue grab while cloaking it in public safety measure. Some just have a gut feeling that it's unconstitutional.

Rivera doesn't formally endorse any of those sentiments, which, though they have been echoing across the country for a decade, have failed to slow the rapid adoption of the technology by cash-strapped local governments. His stated reason for floating a proposal to abolish red-light cameras in Arlington is more pragmatic and thus less easy to dismiss as the product of the populist fringe. Arlington's system simply isn't fair.

Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Ron Wright has repeatedly refused Arlington's entreaties to block the vehicle registrations of red-light scofflaws, saying that cities are responsible for collecting their own fines. (In a similar display of chutzpah, Collin County Tax Assessor Kenneth Maun rebuffed similar advances by the NTTA.) Because violations caught by red-light cameras are civil offenses that can't go on credit reports or driving records, there are no consequences for ignoring the tickets, meaning the upstanding citizens who actually pay them are suckers.

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Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez Signs Letter Supporting Same-Sex Marriage. So We Pop the Obvious Question.

Categories: News

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Harry Wilonsky
Sheriff Lupe Valdez says it's time for marriage equality in Texas.
Last week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals received a letter signed by more than 50 Texas law enforcement officials who support same-sex marriage, according to the Texas Tribune. Among them was Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, the county's first Hispanic, first female and first lesbian sheriff.

When we heard the news, we had one question for the sheriff: Are there wedding bells in her future?

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Dallas Plan Commission Told to Shut Up, Mind its Own Business on Trinity Tree Massacre

Categories: News

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Eric Nicholson
You say you can't see the forest for the trees? City Hall can fix that.
There were several points on Thursday when City Plan Commission members came dangerously close to debating whether City Hall should be allowed to get away with eviscerating several dozen acres of post-oak savanna, in violation of its own zoning rules, so rich people can go golfing.

Luckily for the city's embattled Trinity Watershed Management Department, any substantive discussion of the issue was promptly and summarily strangled by city legal and planning staff.

District 14 Commissioner Paul Ridley was the first to give it a shot.

See also: Dallas Broke Its Own Rules to Get Dirt for Its Golf Course. Now, It Wants a Free Pass.

"Does zoning for Subarea 1 permit strip-mining?" he asked after listening to city planner Neva Dean rattle off the list of the things allowed in the horse-park portion of Planned Development District 883, which includes a hotel and restaurants but not, as you can see from the ordinance, a strip-mine.

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Dallas Police Department Will Host a Class for Officers on the Rights of Citizens to Film Cops

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Sky Chadde
Arlington cop-watchers film police on a recent Saturday night.
Less than two weeks after three people were arrested for filming Arlington police officers conducting a traffic stop, the Dallas Police Department announced Wednesday it will offer a class for law enforcement officers on people's rights to film them in public spaces. Also, the department, along with national journalism organizations, will host an event for the public on Oct. 16.

The U.S. Supreme Court hasn't ruled on citizens' rights to film the police, but many lower courts have, and overwhelmingly they've concluded the act is protected under the First Amendment. All First Amendment rights are subject to reasonable place, time and manner restrictions, but as long as someone recording doesn't interfere with an officer conducting her or his duty, their act is protected.

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Dallas Police Association President Wants More Ethical Behavior and Transparency in the Department

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The buzzword is "transparency."
The Dallas Police Association has a 10-point plan for reforming the department to help fix a problem with low moral among its members. Among other things, the plan calls for changes to policies regarding when police can use force, and new rules for foot chases and job transfers. And in an interview Tuesday, association President Ron Pinkston emphasized the importance of being transparent about the department's inner workings and of maintaining department ethics by following policy, reformed or not.

"You have to have ethics," Pinkston says. "You can't just worry about the officer at the bottom. You got to have the same at the top. Your leadership has to show they have ethics. You have to adhere to all the policies and guidelines of the Dallas Police Department, not just the guys at the bottom but the people at the top who are writing those policies. They have to follow those policies too."

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Craig Watkins' Second Town Meeting on Police Violence Calmer, But Long Road Still Ahead

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Sky Chadde
Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Chief David Brown, District Attorney Craig Watkins and, in the back, Pastor Frederick Haynes patiently answered questions about police violence Thursday night.
District Attorney Craig Watkins' second town hall meeting on police violence following the killing of an unarmed black teenager in Missouri was much more subdued than the first, though the message was much the same: I'm one of you, and I understand where you're coming from, but things have changed.

"When I was growing up, we didn't call the police because we were afraid of them," Watkins told the mostly black group gathered at Friendship West Baptist Church on Thursday. "That's just a reality. But now? You have Chief Brown. You have me. You have Lupe. You can call the police today in 2014 and you'll be treated fairly."

Watkins was referring to Dallas police Chief David Brown and Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who both joined him at the meeting. Brown is Dallas' second black police chief. Valdez is Dallas County's first female and first Latina sheriff.

Although Thursday's meeting was calmer, some audience members were still not buying Watkins' assurances.

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Reporting Law for On-Campus Rapes Underestimates Real Numbers

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Spencerjc1
Fewer than 0.1 percent of SMU students were sexually assaulted on-campus from 2010 to 2012. But what about other DFW schools? And how accurate is that number?

On Sunday night, an SMU student was raped while jogging just off campus. There are no details so far about the girl, other than the fact that she was assaulted in one of the nicest neighborhoods in town, in University Park. But her case is much more common than statistics would lead us to believe, despite a federal law aimed at keeping count of crimes on and near college campuses.

Part of the Clery Act requires schools to report the number of annual campus sexual assault cases to the Department of Education and mandates that schools be as transparent about crime as possible with students. Still, some schools are better than others at encouraging students to report their assaults, and the law's requirements leave gaps that make collecting accurate data difficult.

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Dallas Now Has a Bitcoin ATM

Categories: News

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Jimmy Scott
Here it is, Dallas' first Bitcoin ATM in all its glory.
Late last month, we told you about BTCity, a startup trying to find the perfect site for the company's Bitcoin ATM, expected to be the first in Dallas. BTCity still hasn't managed to get its machine up and running, but a local entrepreneur took the company's plans as an opportunity to speed up his timeline for getting his own ATM installed.

See also: Bitcoin ATM Startup Hoping to Plant Its Flag in Dallas

This week he won the race, placing the ATM pictured above into Buzzbrews' Deep Ellum location.

"I had ordered [the ATM] like a month ago and I was slowly trying to figure out legally what I needed to do. I saw [the BTCity article] so I really jumped the gun on trying to find a place to it," Jimmy Scott says. "I can't let this guy from out of town come beat me."

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Last Night's Vigil for Mike Brown on Continental Bridge Was Thoughtful, Heartfelt

Categories: News

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Stephen Young
Vigil Attendees

A group that swelled to perhaps as large as 100 at its biggest gathered at the Continental Bridge Park Thursday night to express solidarity with Mike Brown, the Ferguson, Missouri, man gunned down by a police officer Saturday, and the protesters in Ferguson who have faced tear gas and intimidation from Ferguson and Saint Louis County police.

At just after 6 p.m. when the candlelight portion of the gathering started, it was very much still light on the bridge. There was a loud-music-accompanied exercise class going on nearby and it was hot. Participants seemed to appreciate the chance to be together and to be heard.


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