Dallas area faith leaders and activists held a virtual press conference on Tuesday to speak out against the use of DPS Troopers in Dallas amid a surge in crime.
“These troopers only add to the danger in the darkness,” said Frederick D Haynes, with Friendship-West Baptist Church.
The state resources were requested by the Dallas Police Department and sent by Governor Greg Abbott. City leaders, including Mayor Eric Johnson, supported their use to fight crime that has sent the homicide rate to its highest level in 20-years.
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“All of our residents deserve to live in safe communities, and I welcome any help we can get on their behalf,” said Mayor Johnson in a statement.
But a petition is making the rounds, protesting the trooper’s presence and calling for a renewed focus on neighborhood and mental health resources.
“With them(DPS) coming back you are telling your citizens, the poorer people in these communities that we can’t handle it so here is this,” said community activist Jodi Voice Yellowfish.
In 2019, when DPS Troopers were also sent to Dallas, there was criticism from some that they were performing unnecessary traffic stops. According to Dallas Police and city leaders, DPS resources in 2020 will focus on investigations as opposed to patrol, which will remain a local function.
“That is not a police presence to in any way take rights away from the community it is a police presence to help the community feel safer,” said Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata, who supports their return.
Mayor Eric Johnson’s full statement on the return of DPS Troopers is as follows:
“My focus is on the people affected by the unacceptable increases in violent crime in our city. Victims of violence in Dallas are disproportionately people of color who live in historically underserved neighborhoods like the ones where I grew up. All of our residents deserve to live in safe communities, and I welcome any help we can get on their behalf.
Throughout my career in public service, I have advocated for both short-term and long-term approaches to strengthening our neighborhoods that will reduce our dependence on law enforcement. But make no mistake: we must have robust, responsible, and accountable community policing to help keep all the people of Dallas safe.”