A controversial policy regarding how the Dallas Police Department handles the investigation of police shootings could be changing.
The department responded Thursday to a list of demands by a group of protesters – the Next Generation Action Network, which says its goal is to cultivate young leaders and put an end to social injustice. In recent weeks the group's rallies have dwindled in size, but now it seems to have convinced DPD to back down from one of its controversial policies.
When a Dallas police officer is involved in a shooting, the department's policy – dating back to 2013 – is to wait 72 hours before questioning the officer involved and any officers nearby.
Even if an officer witnessed the shooting, he or she has the right to remain silent and watch any available video from the scene before giving a statement three days later.
It was a policy Police Chief David Brown approved, telling NBC 5's media partners at The Dallas Morning News in November 2013, "It is my belief that this decision will improve the investigation of our most critical incidents."
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But now DPD says effective immediately, "Every officer will be provided the same legal rights as any other citizen who is the subject of a criminal investigation."
Dallas police say Next Gen members planned to continue their protests in downtown until Dallas police responded to their demands.
There were 14 demands in all, including ending police department quotas, tickets and arrests – to which Dallas police responded, "The Dallas Police Department does not have, require, or suggest a quota for officers for tickets or arrests."
Another demand was to have Dallas Fire-Rescue respond to a CIT – or crisis intervention team – call with Dallas police.
To that, DPD responded, "The Dallas Police Department and DFR are working on a new policy where they both will respond to CIT calls."
The group also wants Dallas police to make hiring minority officers a priority, to which DPD said, "For the first time in its history, the Dallas Police Department is a majority minority police department."
It was a Next Gen protest on July 7 where five officers were fatally shot in an ambush attack while protecting that group's right to assemble.
An attorney who represents the Dallas Police Association said Thursday evening, when it comes to the sudden change to the 72-hour rule, "Our clients will provide statements when they are physically and emotionally fit to do so."
See the full list of Next Gen demands, with the Dallas Police Department's responses, below:
1. Abolish the 72 hour wait after an officer involved shooting
- Effective immediately, every officer will be provided the same legal rights as any other citizen who is the subject of a criminal investigation.
2. Dallas Citizen’s Review Board with subpoena power
- Any changes to the Citizen’s Review Board must be made through the City Council.
3. DFR respond to CIT calls with DPD
- The Dallas Police Department and DFR are working on a new policy where they both will respond to CIT calls.
4. “Deprioritize” enforcement in consumption of alcohol on the streets, possession of marijuana, disorderly conduct, criminal trespassing, littering, disturbing the peace, and spitting
- The Dallas Police Department is sworn to enforce the law to protect citizens.
5. End police department quotas, tickets, and arrests
- The Dallas Police Department does not have, require, or suggest a quota for officers for tickets or arrests.
6. Review the police department’s use of force policy
- The Dallas Police Department continuously reviews the Use of Force Policy and will make a copy of the policy available to the Next Generation Action Network.
7. Review the police department’s community policing
- The Dallas Police Department is nationally recognized as a progressive community policing organization. The department continuously reviews its community policing efforts and will make a copy of the programs available to the Next Generation Action Network.
8. Require “racial bias” training
- Dallas Police Department currently requires all officers to be instructed on Fair and Impartial Policing; Police Legitimacy and Procedural Justice.
9. Prohibit use of municipal/federal funds to purchase military equipment
- The Dallas Police Department does not purchase military equipment. The department does purchase protective law enforcement equipment for police officers.
10. City ordinance to require audio and video technology to be used by officers with a clear policy regarding its use
- The Dallas Police Department has clear policies regarding the use of audio and video technology by officers. The City Council passes city ordinances.
11. Allow activists free access to body camera and car video and audio
- The Dallas Police Department will release all body camera, car video, and audio in accordance with state law.
12. All officers are bonded and insured by a 3rd party insurance company so the city is not liable for “rogue officers”
- The City of Dallas is self-insured.
13. The prioritization of hiring minority officers
- For the first time in its history, the Dallas Police Department is a majority minority police department.
14. No one has been held accountable for not using their body cameras or dash cameras
- The Dallas Police Department has disciplined 32 officers for violations of the camera policy.