The push for police reform in Dallas did not end after Tuesday’s Minnesota conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derrick Chauvin for the 2020 death of George Floyd. But it did produce a strong sense of relief. And there’ve been changes in how Dallas will handle future demonstrations since last year’s Dallas protests.
The jury’s guilty verdict on all charges for Chauvin was good news for Dallas, according to Black Police Association of Greater Dallas President Terrance Hopkins.
“They were quick about having justice served in this case, so I was very pleased,” Hopkins said. “I think that is investment in the trust bank account for the community and the police department going forward.”
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People in Dallas took to the streets in large numbers last year, outraged over Chauvin’s actions, but also past Dallas brutality.
During those demonstrations, troublemakers broke into businesses. Dallas Police were unable to stop the looting.
And then there was fresh outrage over demonstrators corralled on a bridge, point-blank use of pepper balls and tear gas used on peaceful protesters.
Afterward, Former Police Chief U. Renee Hall added a policy against the use of tear gas on peaceful demonstrators and a duty to intervene policy for officers who witness misconduct.
Dominque Alexander is a demonstration organizer.
“We have to make sure and ensure that those policies we fought for after the George Floyd death are still in place,” Alexander said.
Mike Mata is president of the largest Dallas police union, the Dallas Police Association.
Mata said officers have received better training and new Polie Chief Eddie Garcia has made command staff changes to fix criticism of slow decisions during the demonstrations under Hall.
“I'm very confident that we have taken great steps to be as successful as we can and keeping everybody safe,” Mata said. “The Dallas Police Department and the Dallas Police Association 100% support anybody’s right to protest. That is their constitutional right, but as long as we do it in a safe and orderly manner.”
Hopkins work at the police department involves response to large events. He said recent demonstrations since Garcia became Chief in February have been smaller and more peaceful so it is too soon to say how his command staff would perform under stress.
“We don't have that type of situation where I can make that assessment just yet,” Hopkins said.
The Black Police Association leader said he agreed that good progress has been made on the approach to demonstrations but that more work is needed in Dallas to keep large groups of the public from feeling the need to demonstrate.
“The community deserves answers,” Hopkins said. “We've got to be transparent in the way of information as soon as possible, to quell any rumors.”
Final results of investigations by Dallas Police and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office on allegations of officer misconduct from last year’s demonstrations have still not been released.
Contact people for the Dallas Police Department and District Attorney’s Office said no additional information was available Wednesday.
Leaders of the group Mothers Against Police Brutality said they will continue to push for additional reform.
Co-founder Sara Mokuria said society must reduce the number of encounters between police by reducing investment in police and increasing investment in unmet community needs.