South Dallas residents and a city council member gathered at a community center near Fair Park Tuesday to address concerns over state troopers helping police officers in their neighborhood.
The Texas Department of Public Safety troopers were assigned by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to help Dallas combat a spike in violent crime including a surge in murders.
"I don't feel like it's doing anything to stop the violence," South Dallas resident Cinthy Wheat said.
She lives on Park Row near Malcolm X Boulevard where Wheat said she has seen many DPS traffic stops. Wheat said the stops are singling out Black and Latino drivers with the claim of looking for guns and drugs.
"It's starting to be a harassment now," she said.
Dallas City Council Member Adam Bazaldua scheduled a meeting Tuesday and invited Texas DPS and Dallas Police officials to hear the resident complaints.
"The only thing that I continue to hear that they're doing is expired stickers, traffic violations, etcetera. That's in my opinion only increasing police presence and not doing anything to directly combat our violent crimes," Bazaldua said.
The councilman said Latino drivers have told him the troopers asked for immigration papers on traffic stops, something Dallas police officers seldom do.
Bazaldua said the troopers should be sent to other parts of Dallas, so more Dallas police officers can work in South Dallas.
"I don't think the community would be near as concerned if we had the same amount of police presence, but they were all Dallas Police Department," Bazaldua said.
Tabitha Wheeler-Reagan is a resident and business owner in Bazaldua's district.
She said excessive traffic stops in predominately black communities are problematic. So much so, she said it's deterring potential customers for fear of harassment.
"The connection with DPS and the black community is one of when I see a DPS officer I don't look at him like I look at a DPD officer," Wheeler-Reagan said. "Presence of them, not only is it affecting economic growth, it's affecting quality of life."
Jeff Williams of the State Department of Public Safety said he's taking in the feedback, but also reiterated the original agreement with Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall.
"We decided that, given the logistics of working together, we would do what we did and she said that would be a great plan, you guys go out and do proactive traffic enforcement," Williams said.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot attended the community meeting. He said he was in support of the collaboration, but now he's concerned.
"I was not anticipating that the community would be targeted in this manner, nor did I anticipate that I would be sitting here tonight listening to these types of complaints," Creuzot said.
Williams said he's confident that the crime numbers will eventually show that the partnership is working.