City Council Member Wants DPS Out of South Dallas Amid Allegations of 'Over-Policing' - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

City Council Member Wants DPS Out of South Dallas Amid Allegations of 'Over-Policing'

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    City Council Member Wants DPS Out of South Dallas

    A Dallas city council member is asking for the Department of Pubic Safety to leave South Dallas over claims of ‘over-policing’ after thousands of people have been stopped by troopers in the past several weeks. (Published Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019)

    A Dallas city council member is asking for the Department of Pubic Safety to leave South Dallas over claims of 'over-policing' after thousands of people have been stopped by troopers in the past several weeks.

    State troopers were brought into the city of Dallas at the request of the police chief and with the governor's blessing to help combat a rise in violent crime in targeted areas.

    In about a two-month period, troopers have stopped approximately 12,000 people, according to city officials.

    DPS says out of approximately 9,000 traffic stops, less than 7% have resulted in citations.

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    However, DPS reports seizing drugs, stolen cars, making 400 criminal arrests, serving over 250 warrants, and seizing 71 illegal guns in the concentrated area of operation.

    But some residents say DPS' approach has only made them feel scared and targeted.

    "What is happening now is wrong and I'm asking that it stop," said Dallas City Councilmember for Dist. 7 Adam Bazaldua during a Thursday morning press conference where other council members and the county's district attorney stood in support of the move.

    Echoing his constituents complaints of alleged "over-policing" by state troopers in South Dallas, Bazaldua has a message for DPS.

    "I'm now asking that DPS move their troopers from South Dallas and get back to the drawing board with DPD to determine where our added resources would be better served," he said.

    The move is coming on the heels of a community meeting Bazaldua held with DPS officials and concerned residents and business owners like Tabitha Wheeler Reagan.

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    "I live on Malcom X, why do I have to take back streets home? To avoid getting stopped by DPS," she said. "They're stopping people, they don't even have a reason why they're stopping."

    Changa Higgins supports the call for a DPS exodus from his neighborhood.

    "It feels excessive. It feels heavy-handed. I feels like South Dallas is being punished for the increase in crime," he said.

    Bazaldua explained law enforcement previously designated eight so-called 'tag zones' in areas with high concentrations of violent crimes, including 'Central Scyene' in South Dallas.

    Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot attended this morning's press conference and attended the community meeting where he left feeling 'concerned' over residents' complaints of feeling unfairly targeted.

    Creuzot had previously stood in support bringing in troopers to help a severely understaffed Dallas Police Department combat a rise in violent crime throughout the city.

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    "Accepting the help is one thing, it's the implementation and the plan and what the impact is having on the community is where we are today," said Creuzot. "There needs to be a re-calculation of this. I'm not saying DPS ought to go away, but it's how the deployment is done and what it is that they're doing so that it actually impacts what they were brought here to do."

    The district attorney says he has not received any data indicating traffic stops will reduce crime.

    "There is no correlation between traffic stops and what you're supposed to be here to do, which is to help drive down the murder rate."

    However, Creuzot pushed back on the notion that removing 71 illegal guns from the streets of Dallas could in turn help bring down crime, perhaps even murders.

    "You don't know that that gun would be used in a murder, number one," he said. "I understand taking the gun if it's an illegal gun, you take the gun because it's an illegal gun. Not because you have evidence it's about to be used to commit a murder."

    Creuzot said from what he's gathered many of those arrested are low level offenders who will not be prosecuted by his office, especially first-time possession of marijuana offenders.

    "Instead of having those officers come down and spend two, three, four hours booking someone on a case that's going to be dismissed, they could be deployed to respond to a burglary or a robbery."

    During the press conference, Bazaldua said troopers are 'not in the environment they were trained to be in.'

    That is something resident Higgins agrees with.

    "If there's going to be a police presence it needs to be the Dallas Police Department," he said. "Police who've been trained to deal with the community and who knows the community better."

    But that is something that may be difficult to do at this time, as DPD is dealing with an officer shortage in the hundreds.

    Fear of troopers has reportedly kept people away from businesses in South Dallas so much so that business owners have said they fear they'll go out of business.

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    Creuzot said this reminded him of criticism from the Dallas Police Association after Creuzot revealed reforms in his office which included not prosecuting some theft cases.

    "Let's go back a little bit when I introduced my reforms, what did DPA say? That it was going to impact business and businesses were going to close and this and that and the other. Well, now we have a police action and we have a community saying you're helping close my business. I'd like to have DPA's response to that," said Creuzot.

    NBC 5 reached out to Mike Mata, the president of the DPA, for comment.

    "I think it's very disingenuous for D.A. Creuzot to compare traffic stops by an outside agency during a short period to his ridiculous and insulting idea that poor people steal to meet their needs," said Mata in a statement.

    Representatives with both DPD and DPS released statements following the press conference, both with a similar message.

    DPS says it will continue to support Dallas police.

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    "DPS continues to willingly and proudly support our partners with Dallas Police Department in their efforts to protect the residents of the Dallas area by combating violent crime and criminal activity."

    DPD's statement mirrored appreciation for their partners at DPS.

    "The Dallas Police Department appreciates the partnership and efforts of DPS to protect the residents of Dallas by combating violent crime and criminal activity."

    Dallas police report that in July, South Dallas saw a 29% drop in violent crime, but added that the area still accounts for the highest incidents of violent crime out of the city's targeted enforcement areas.

    DPD also stated if anyone has concerns or a complaint regarding an incident involving a DPS trooper, they are encouraged to contact the DPS Office of Inspector General at 512-424-5017 or email InspectorGeneral@dps.texas.gov.

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