For a second straight day this week, Plano Police Chief Ed Drain walked and talked with protesters for racial justice in Plano.
Tuesday, Drain walked for hours with a group in West Plano and took their questions in an informal meeting. Drain said he and other officers wanted to be available to answer the tough questions.
“We do have policies, we do have training, we do have hiring practices in place that make it less likely that we would have a situation like what happened in Minneapolis,” said Drain.
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Specifically, Drain said the department hires officers with bachelor’s degrees or comparable military or law enforcement experience. Those without degrees must have taken at least 60 hours of college classes.
“There is data to support that the more educated officers are, the less likely they are to have to use force,” Drain told NBC 5.
Drain also said the department requires implicit bias and crisis intervention training.
“We think that what happened in Minneapolis was wrong, that was a tragedy that didn’t have to happen,” said Drain.
When it comes to the department’s approach with demonstrations, Drain said the department tries to connect with organizations ahead of a protest.
“I don’t need to wear gas masks, I don’t need to wear shields and batons to keep somebody safe while they exercise their first amendment right,” said Drain.
“If we were to get intelligence that people were intentionally coming out to engage in civil disobedience, then we may change our approach.”
Racial justice protests, most recently sparked by the killing of George Floyd, have touched most major cities around the country and included suburban communities.
As Tuesday’s protest wound down, Plano resident Bianca Hardison said she was picking up dinner with her three year old when she spotted a young protester standing alone at the corner of Parker and Preston.
“Just to see her there all alone with her Black Lives Matter sign and she was clearly a Caucasian or a non-black female, I don’t know… it just moved me,” said Hardison.
Hardison snapped a photo and shared it on Twitter, writing, in part: “Whoever she is, I saw you and tears came down my face. THANK YOU for being an ally when no one is around.”
Hardison, who is black, said she was glad her son could see it.
“You always think of different ways that someone can be an ally and that is definitely one and it was definitely moving,” Hardison told NBC 5.
Wednesday, protesters gathered again for a march from Haggard Park in downtown Plano to the nearby police department. Again, Chief Drain could be seen with officers talking with demonstrators.
“This gives us an opportunity to also express our emotions when we are out there with that crowd,” said Drain.
“It helps to reinforce what we try to tell them – that, we too, see his death as a tragedy,” Drain added.