As 100 people gathered outside of Dallas City Hall Tuesday afternoon, Sergeant Ira Carter answered questions as part of a panel discussing solutions in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
It was a program hosted by the “Not My Son” campaign and one of the growing number of opportunities Carter has had to raise his voice not only as a police officer but a black man as tensions grow between the two groups.
“First and foremost, being an African American guy and understanding what the protesters are talking about and understanding where the protesters are coming from, I do think it’s up to me to have those conversations. I don’t think it’s up to me to just see what’s going on and just ignore it. Once you ignore something it’s like you really don’t care about it,” said Sergeant Ira Carter. “So yeah, it’s my duty to have those conversations. It’s my duty to try to help fix some of the problems that we have.”
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Last week, a video of Carter talking with protesters went viral after it was captured by a Dallas Morning News reporter.
In it, Carter kneeled with protesters to tell them as a black man with children, he understood their calls for change.
He also asked them to keep their protests peaceful and to understand that criminal justice reform requires work in more departments than just the police force.
“I understand from the black side we’ve got a long way to go, and I understand from the police side we’re trying to do the things we need to do. But I’ll tell anybody, it’s not going to change overnight, but we’ve got to be willing to have cooler heads prevail and sit down at the table and do the things we need to get to get this stuff fixed,” said Carter.
As a 17-year veteran of the department, Carter said George Floyd’s death should push departments to spend more time educating against racism and de-escalating interactions.
“He was killed at the hand of police because of something we did as police officers, so we’ve got to own it. We’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We’ve got to make sure we take corrective action and we’ve got to make sure we continue to fix the problems that leads to some of this systemic racism across the country,” said Carter.
Carter said at times, his decision to speak out hasn’t been accepted by others within his agency.
But Saturday, Chief Renee Hall issued a statement saying, “Under no circumstances, will the Dallas Police Department keep Sergeant Ira Carter or any officer from working to build partnerships and de-escalate tension between the police and the community at this difficult time. We own and atone for law enforcement's role in the pain that our protesters feel. We are working together to make positive change in Dallas and it starts with building strong relationships.”
In addition to serving on the Dallas police force, Carter teaches in its academy and for departments around the country.