A group of southern Dallas ministers Monday rallied for more police presence. It was a contrast to some other faith leaders and activists who called for defunding police and opposed the presence of the Texas Department of Public Safety troopers in Dallas.
“Any help is good help with the right attitude,” St. Paul Baptist Church Pastor Lelious Johnson said.
The pastors gathered Monday said South Dallas has seen a large share of the 227 homicides recorded in Dallas so far in 2020.
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They said people in their area live in fear of violence and street racing, which is also on the rise.
“I just don't believe that we can afford, in times like these, to be turning down help,” Johnson said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) offered extra help from the Texas Department of Public Safety as Dallas' violent crime increased again this year on top of a spike last year.
Two summers ago, state troopers swarmed through Dallas neighborhoods conducting traffic stops to assist police, which some people considered excessive.
This year Dallas police have said state troopers will only be used to assist with investigations.
Donald Parish Senior, the pastor of True Lee Missionary Baptist Church, said the group was not in favor of removing funds from the police department.
“But we believe that policing needs to be reformed,” Parish said. “There should be more time spent on training the police on how to deescalate the situation.”
Dallas leaders provided additional funding this year for alternative responses to mental health calls. A domestic violence task force made recommendations being considered by city officials now.
The pastors Monday said they supported the community police approach that Dallas was promoting before the coronavirus pandemic.
“Where we know the officers, we have a relationship with them. With the uptick of murder and of course of violence, that shows we need more police in our community. But we want them to be a partner with us,” Salem Institutional Baptist Church Pastor Todd Atkins said.
Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall has resigned, effective a the end of December.
Finalists are expected to be announced soon in the search for Hall’s replacement, which has been underway for months.
The ministers said they expected a new chief who is prepared and capable of tackling Dallas problems.
They’re asking residents to work with police.
“We want to be a part of the solution, we want a part of the answer but yes we want a seat at the table,” Atkins said.
City Manager T.C. Broadnax hires the Dallas police chief. A representative of his office has said there will be public input about the finalists before a decision is made.