Dallas residents had another chance to weigh in this week on controversial reforms to the city’s Citizens Police Review Board, reforms that have sparked a citywide debate.
As reported previously by Texas Scorecard, the controversial reforms were put together by a coalition of leftist groups who collaborated with the police chief and members of the CPRB. Initially, they proposed giving the board subpoena power over police officers and a check for over a million taxpayer dollars.
On Wednesday morning, Dallas Chief of Police Renee Hall briefed the Dallas City Council on updates to the proposed reforms, which included removing the board being granted subpoena power over police officers but still calling for three new full-time employees and over $1 million in taxpayer cash.
Not everyone who came to give public testimony was happy about this.
“We the taxpayers are taxed to the max,” said Minnie Caruth to the council. “This could create in Dallas as much as a $35 million debt over a 10-year period.”
Caruth also presented Mayor Mike Rawlings and council members with statistics from criminal research investigator John Lott, who found that crime actually went up in Houston once the city instituted a citizen police review board.
“The only requirement for the new committee you’re proposing is that they don’t know anything about police work,” added W.W. “Bill” Caruth Jr.
Others came to testify in favor of the reforms, believing they were needed to address alleged abuses of power by the police.
“We will not have that solemn oath that every peace officer has taken to be violated,” Marvin Earle testified to the council. “We will remove you, we will vote you out, we will protest [if you do not pass the reforms].”
Some citizens even argued these reforms were the way to address alleged racism in Dallas.
“There are two laws in Dallas, a black law and a white law,” said Isaac Steen. “And the black law has been convicting us and sending us to the penitentiary in droves.”
Also present at the council meeting were various representatives from the leftist coalition that helped draft the proposed reforms—including the ACLU of Texas, the Democratic Socialists of America, and Next Generation Action Network (whose founder organized the 2016 Dallas police brutality protest where a gunman killed five police officers)—all of whom argued in favor of the reforms.
Local activist Andrea Mendoza had a different take, presenting her arguments on how to improve relations between the Dallas police and the community. Mendoza started a petition to stop the reforms and has currently garnered almost 300 signatures.
“If we want integrity and driven policing as citizens, I think we need to build that trust between the police and us,” Mendoza said. She went on to say the current CPRB needs to educate the community and promote participation with existing organizations such as the crime watch, “Blue in School,” and the Dallas Junior Police Academy to foster better police and community relations.
Citizen police review boards have a history of not providing better accountability, and at a cost of over a million dollars, taxpayers should expect better. Those arguing for greater accountability, transparency, and checks and balances on police power will not get it from a citizens police review or oversight board.
Dallas City Council is expected to vote on the proposals on April 24.