The 2020 Minneapolis Death of George Floyd and 100 days of Dallas demonstrations against police brutality that followed led to changes in Dallas police policy that some activists say don’t go far enough.
On the first day of former Minneapolis officer Derrick Chauvin’s murder trial for Floyd’s death, Dallas activists and police shared their views with NBC 5.
One of the Dallas changes was a duty to intervene policy that holds officers responsible for failing to report impropriety by others.
Dallas officers will also now receive intervention training.
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Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata, a patrol Sergeant, said he has received the training to become a trainer for other officers to show that the association wants to be part of solutions.
But Mata said more complaints about officers already come from inside the department than from outside. He said Dallas police have promoted avoiding use of force and other reform measures for many years.
“I think we do a good job of policing each other. It shows in the internal complaints that we have. It shows in the professionalism that we show out there every day,” Mata said. “All police departments are not the same. All training is not the same. We have been at the forefront of community policing. We have been at the forefront of de-escalation.”
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John Fullinwider, a co-founder of the group Mothers Against Police Brutality, said the use of tear gas on demonstrators last year shows that brutality was still an acceptable response.
Former Chief U. Renee Hall forbid the use of tear gas on peaceful protestors after it happened.
“The reforms that are being proposed are good. But they just don't reach down to that deep well of racism and brutality that runs within the police departments in America,” Fullinwider said. “There is a Derrick Chauvin on every department in this country, more than one.”
Terrance Hopkins is president of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas.
“I think there has been change. I think additional change is needed,” Hopkins said.
The BPA leader said Black officers joined the force to enforce the law, but also to see that Black and Brown residents are treated fairly by police.
“We say the same things about the people we cite or arrest many times. You should know right from wrong. Officers should be no different,” Hopkins said.
He supports the new intervention training, which Hopkins said he will receive next week. Hopkins said training needs to promote sensitivity to diversity.
“It really has to be done in a manner that puts anybody that’s not Black or not minority, in those shoes to see how that plays out,” Hopkins said.
New Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia from San Jose, California has said that he promotes reform and diversity.
Dallas Police Monitor Tonya McClary, who works with the Dallas Police Civilian Oversight Board, is tasked with seeing that Garcia does.
“We're here to monitor the police department. We're here to make sure that they're getting things right and to also see them bring in best practices,” McClary said.
Her office, the Oversight Board and police internal affairs are still reviewing the point-blank use of pepper balls on demonstrators last year, along with everything else that happened on the streets in a push for reform.
“Some things will be going to the District Attorney’s office to see if there’s any criminality on behalf of any of the officers. So, I know this work is still ongoing. There are still complaints that are being investigated,” McClary said.
All four of the people who spoke with NBC 5 Monday gave new Chief Garcia a good review.
Fullinwider said activists are watching closely.
“He shouldn’t be overly burdened by departmental policies and practices of the past. So, I’m cautiously optimistic,” Fullinwider said.
In addition to the duty to intervene policy last year, former Chief Hall also reaffirmed a ban on chokeholds and neck restraints that Mata said had been in place for many years.
A Dallas policy now specifies that police video will be made public in more cases.
Money was added to help police track officers with a history of complaints.
The current city budget also added social programs in hope of reducing the use of police for mental health calls, substance abuse and ex-offenders. A new program will put civilian violence interrupters in dense apartment communities where gangs sometimes recruit new members.
Dallas also added community programs to reduce blight and add lighting in crime-prone areas in the past year.