Individuals involved in organizing the recent protests-turned-riots in Dallas have produced a list demanding the adoption of Democrat policy goals that have little to do with police accountability and transparency. The demands bring into question if the protest organizers are exploiting the tragic death of George Floyd for political purposes.
Last week, Dallas exploded into protests and riots ostensibly in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The protests were organized by Dominique Alexander, the controversial head of the Next Generation Action Network—part of the leftist coalition that worked to pass ineffective and costly reforms of the Dallas Citizens Police Review Board last year. The entire coalition also worked with Alexander to organize the protests that devolved into destructive riots.
Despite having worked hard to have the police review board reformed, the coalition chose not to go through the board to redress their grievances about Dallas’ police department. Instead, they took to the streets.
Texas Scorecard previously reported on the ineffectiveness of such boards and how police are already overseen by an elected civilian authority—the city council.
“The police are already a civilian-overseen organization. There’s not a police force that exists external to the mayor or the city manager, or whatever the case might be,” said Derek Cohen, director of Texas Public Policy Foundation’s criminal justice reform campaign Right On Crime. “I think a lot of municipal leaders want to distance themselves from the actual levers that they are able [to pull] that could affect this situation.”
After a weekend of violence, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins invited the coalition to meet with him and submit a list of demands, an invitation they accepted. Present at the meeting was State Rep. Lorraine Birabil (D–Dallas). Jenkins shared the coalition’s demands on social media.
“There are one or two items in this list that are actually decent ideas, but 99 percent of this list is liberal claptrap,” Cohen said. “They missed a golden opportunity here.”
One of the coalition’s demands is for the government to track individuals’ movements and who they’ve been in contact with via contact tracing. This has become a recent hot button issue for grassroots concerned about privacy rights as well as the $295 million contract approved without input from the Texas Legislature.
Another demand—requiring mental health professionals to be sent to deal with nonviolent mental health calls—appears to be contradictory, as it also calls for defunding the police. “By defunding the police, you’re not going to have more of this fairly costly [service],” he said.
“Any community without civilian law enforcement, that’s not going to be a community that’s going to be a healthy community very much longer. I mean, obviously, if you have a community that’s very much over-policed, that’s a conversation worth having.”
Another demand regarding illegal immigration was of particular interest, as it has been alleged that protesters likely have illegal immigrants among them. Leftist organizations cautioned others not to answer if authorities asked about their immigration status.
Cohen pointed out that Democrats, led by State Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D–Eagle Pass), spearheaded the effort that killed the Republican “Sandra Bland bill” last year—which contained the Incarceration Prevention Measure for Minor Offenses the Dallas organizers now claim to want.
Cohen did find that Item #7 has merit, which calls for removing officers who have a record of questionable integrity, otherwise known as a list of officers who have “Brady” or “Giglio” information. “In other words, that’s a list that the [District Attorney] would have that says we cannot call ‘officer so-and-so’ to testify because if we do, we then have to state publicly on the judicial record that this officer has impeachment evidence,” he said. “In other words, these should not be trusted because of X, Y, and Z.”
“From a public integrity standpoint, people with Giglio files should not be police officers. That I actually think is a good idea.”
Cohen did say he would cut off the section about complaints of excessive force. “If it was substantiated complaints of excessive force, that’d be fine,” he said. “But the way they’re setting up this apparatus here, you’re going to get a lot more complaints of excessive force. We basically still should be preserving due process.”
He also takes issue with part of the demand regarding community interaction. “I would even say with this particular list of demands right here, there’s no such thing as ‘the Dallas minority community,’” he said. “There’s a Dallas Hispanic community, a Dallas African-American community … there’s a Dallas Hasidic Jew community.”
“And they all have different needs, different wants of the police, and so on and so forth. So basically, being able to address different communities differently is absolutely to take this in the right direction. But the only way we can find out what those communities need, what those community leaders want, and so forth, is to have that sinew between them and the police department.”
When it comes to actual reforms that would bring more transparency and accountability in our police departments, Cohen says there are things citizens can do, but it is important not to judge all police officers by the actions of some.
“We can’t necessarily castigate an entire profession for the action of what the bad apples do,” he said. “That being said, though, we also need to make sure we’re looking at ways those bad apples are either screened out on the front end or identified before something like [George Floyd] happens.”
What are things grassroots can do to help screen out the bad apples?
“Being aware of the collective bargaining section is a big thing,” Cohen said of agreements city councils and county commissioners make with police unions. “There needs to be a more robust discussion around that because this is where so much of the training requirements, so much of the fitness requirements, so much of the Department SOPs (Standard Operating Procedure) get set. So, I think that we as a society and/or as our local communities need to pay more attention to that particular process.”
Training and high fitness standards can also provide officers with more tools on how to resolve issues. “When an officer only has a gun on their hip and doesn’t have alternative means, such as a baton or pepper spray, and is substantially outsized by a suspect or by an individual who’s attacking them, that gun becomes the only option. A more fit officer narrows that gap,” Cohen said.
Cohen also cautions that there’s only so much that can be done to prevent bad incidents.
“When it comes to these particular types of incidents,” Cohen added, “we need to keep in mind that no matter what we think is going to happen policy-wise, there is no way that we can foresee every single eventuality that’s going to come from any sort of police-public interaction.”
He also reminds those seeking police reform that it is your city councils and county commissioners who are responsible for how your local police departments act.
“You’ve got places like here, in Austin, where you have all these liberal council members who want to actually say, ‘Oh, well, you know, our police are brutal,’ or, ‘Police are racist.’ And … if you have an honest bone in your body, you would not have just signed the collective bargaining agreement that allows all these immunities to exist.”
Dallas Councilman Adam Bazaldua has been spotted participating in the demonstrations in Dallas. Texas Scorecard asked him where he stood on the city’s collective bargaining agreement with the police and how many Dallas police officers have Giglio files. No response was received by publication time.