DPD Reports Drop in Excessive Force Complaints

The Dallas Police Department's Internal Affairs Division is still investigating a dozen excessive force complaints filed earlier this year.

That's a marked difference from last year, when Internal Affairs at this time was investigating more than 50 complaints.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown says new reality-based training workshops that all patrol officers must attend is a big reason for the drop.

De-escalation tactics are now a focus of the day-long training exercises, taught by police academy instructors, many with decades of experience.

In 2013, 85 residents filed an excessive-force complaint against a Dallas police officer.

In 2014, that dropped to 53 complaints.

So far this year, it's at 13, a 75 percent drop from one year ago.

"We believe these numbers are real. We believe they are sustainable," Brown said.

"And keep in mind, we only started rolling out the body cameras a few months ago, so that may explain a part of the drop, but really it's because we focus on de-escalation strategies during a lot of our new training," he said.

All patrol officers must spend a day participating in reality-training now. Before, it was only a requirement every two years. Thousands of officers have now participated in the workshops.

"We have done a great job at explaining to our officers how important their work-product is, how they treat people," Brown said. "We need to keep Dallas safe, and we also need to respect civil rights."

The chief also said he does not believe in the so-called 'Ferguson Effect,' that a possible explanation for a drop in complaints is officers are not willing to engage and tussle with suspects.

Brown said he's heard critics use the phrase repeatedly, but he said there's no evidence it exists within his department.

The proof, Brown says, is continuing annual drops in violent crime.

"We've had 11 consecutive years now of overall crime reduction in Dallas. Last year, we had the lowest murder rate since 1930, that's going back 84 years," Brown said. "If officers were out doing their jobs, you could not get those types of results."

Of the 53 excessive-force complaints investigated last year, two DPD officers were disciplined.

Internal Affairs has cleared one officer this year of wrongdoing and is still investigating the other 12 reports.

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