In a strongly worded letter, the head of Dallas' Black Police Association said police brutality against unarmed men has become an "epidemic."
The lieutenant who wrote those words has been a Dallas police officer for more than 30 years, and says it's time to speak out on what he calls a growing and dangerous problem.
Lt. Thomas Glover told NBC 5 he used the word "epidemic" to draw attention to his message, which is that regardless of your ethnicity, every American should agree there's a problem with police brutality and that we must work together for real solutions.
The police association is scheduled to hold a press conference to "offer our prayers, condolences, and deepest sympathy to the family of Mr. Terrence Cruter of Tulsa, Oklahoma" Friday morning.
The stream will be carried live at the top of this article at 11 a.m.
"Actually coming out and boldly and profoundly saying it's an issue and it's even an epidemic – I know there will be people who dislike that – but we have to say it and we have to get the truth out there first, before we can get solutions," Glover said Thursday.
In the letter, the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas wrote, in part:
"There is an epidemic of unarmed black men being shot by police officers. It is so pervasive, if not checked it will soon rise to levels exceeded only by lynchings, and slavery...It is time to jog our consciousness and stop this epidemic from spreading; we cannot continue to have innocent lives lost."
Later, the letter states:
"As black police officers, we are expected to perform our duty at times when one would believe that we are forced to chooses between two sides. One side tells us remaining silent on this issue is necessary to survive in this profession, the other tells us to speak up loudly if we are to survive in our ethnic community. As black officers we will choose the side of right and use all of our energy, time, expertise, and funds to render this epidemic officially over."
In defending his letter, Glover told NBC 5 that, "I used the word epidemic in the press release because one person, just one person needlessly dying who was unarmed and not participating in criminal behavior, not threatening the life of another citizen or a police officer, that’s one too many."
"And I can go on and on talking about the cases just this year, just this year, where a police officer shot and injured or shot and killed an unarmed black man," he added.
Glover said the shootings should be troubling to everyone, regardless of their race.
"It's troubling because it's out of the norm," he said. "It appears to be inhuman at times. It is inhuman when someone loses their life when they're not trying to harm anybody."
Glover is calling on his own police department to make serious reforms.
"In order to build trust we have to be transparent and also allow some kind of mechanism so that citizens truly believe they have a voice," he said.
Glover said the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas supports giving subpoena power to a civilian oversight board, so that citizens can question officers involved in deadly shootings, and he supports greater transparency with releasing police video footage.
"We have to allow access to video cameras and body cameras. And when you take a long time to release it ... what people think is that you're trying to cover something up or make an excuse, a rationale," he said.
In calling for greater transparency with releasing police videos following an officer-involved shooting, Glover is in-step with Next Generation Action Network leader Kim Cole, who organized a protest in downtown Dallas Thursday night.
"Be transparent. That is our interest with regard to police reform. We want transparency and accountability," Cole said.
"Aug. 28th, almost a month ago, there was an officer-involved shooting, and police issued no details," she said, referring to a deadly shooting on West Davis Street in Oak Cliff. "The Dallas Police Department hasn't revealed any dash-cam footage, they haven't revealed any body-cam footage. I don't even know the name of the victim. Is that transparency?"
Glover acknowledged the letter will strike many officers as inappropriate and needlessly controversial.
"The most important thing I can say is that we represent the African American community, and we represent the police department. It's a dual role, yes, but there is no struggle when you stand up for what's right. And standing up for reforms is right," Glover said.
There are about 600 officers in the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas. It is predominately black, but there are Latino, white and Asian officers as well.
The BPA is holding a press conference Friday morning at 11 a.m. along with the Dallas NAACP, several prominent church pastors, and other community leaders, to discuss these issues.