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Clergies Seek to ‘Change Policing in Dallas' With Letter to Chief, City Leaders

In a letter over 100 black clergies proposed 10 new directions towards police reform and community improvement

Dallas Police Cruiser
NBC 5 News

A coalition of over 100 Dallas black faith leaders issued a letter to Dallas leadership expressing their support for police reform and community improvement Wednesday.

The Dallas Black Clergy for Safety, Equity and Justice demanded "10 New Directions for Public Safety and Positive Community Change" in a letter to Dallas mayor Eric Johnson, Chief of Police Renee Hall and City Manager TC Broadnax.

"Now is the time for faith leaders to step out and declare we're on the side of people," said Rev. Irie Session.

The 10 new directions include but are not limited to:

  • Increasing investment in alternatives to police response, including a program that assigns teams of mental health professionals as first responders to mental health calls instead of the Dallas Police Department
  • Discontinuing the city of Dallas's agreement with ICE
  • Adopting specific policies restricting the use of deadly force and reviewing all fatal police shootings from the period 2000-2018
  • Creating and reinforcing policies concerning the "duty to intervene" to prevent officer misconduct
  • Investing in new initiatives to enhance the safety, housing, and living conditions in the hard-pressed communities of Dallas

"As clergy leaders and people of faith we must reject the moderate path," said Rev. Rachel Triska, lead pastor of Life in Deep Ellum. "It is time to be clear about whose side we are on.” 

On Saturday, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson joined a service honoring George Floyd with four Dallas faith leaders. Johnson published his own letter addressing healing with faith leaders and potential police reform.

"I joined four ministers at the Dallas West Church of Christ to speak extensively about the importance of the George Floyd protests, the power of prayer, the need for understanding, the spread of COVID-19, and other relevant topics," Johnson said in his letter. "The church is a place of significance; It's where I was baptized, and it's where Botham Jean made his spiritual home in Dallas."

Police reform gained traction among the Dallas City Council after the Dallas Police Department's handling of peaceful protesters on Margaret Hunt Hill bridge drew criticism from city council members and Broadnax.

“What happened on the bridge was inappropriate,” Broadnax said.

Broadnax unveiled an 11-point action plan Friday that included many of the same points on police reform as the letter from the Dallas Black Clergy for Safety, Equity, and Justice, including a "Duty to Intervene" policy, requiring that officers take action if they witness another officer misusing force.

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