As you may know, a coalition comprised of many community organizations has submitted a proposal to reform the existing Citizens Police Review Board into a funded powerhouse renamed “The Community Police Oversight Board.”
This reformation would allow the board to have structural independence and to monitor and witness all Dallas Police Department investigations from start to finish. The board would also give recommendations on the disciplinary actions an officer would face, along with recommendations on Dallas Police Department policies and training procedures.
How can a citizen with no knowledge or experience be expected to make such recommendations? The answer in this proposal was funding, but the Dallas Police Department already offers courses on these topics to the public for free.
The expansion of power to this board could lead it to become vulnerable to political manipulation. Based on the information available through the city, and the recent town hall meetings held for public discussion, it seems the reformation will only continue to drive the wedge deeper between our city’s first responders and the communities they serve.
The board also mentioned using public outreach and engagement between the communities and our officers to rebuild trust. Newly paid members would educate citizens on how to report an officer’s misconduct, helping to alleviate the fear of doing so, and the outcome of these reports would be open to the public.
The overarching issue at these meetings came down to some citizens fearing our first responders based on the color of skin you have. There was no mention of reducing crimes, lowering response times to calls, or what would build relationships between our officers and communities.
Go back to 2013, when news and social media outlets used the same scare tactics to divide our nation and paint a perception that ALL officers are the same. The protests were on the news nearly every day for the following years leading up to the protest on July 7, 2016.
That protest took place here in Dallas and was hosted by the Next Generation Action Network. This group, the NGAN, just happens to be one of the many community organizations that is part of the coalition pushing for this reformation of the CPRB.
Some of our city’s leaders, including the chief of police, are in favor of this reformation. These include the same leaders whose responsibility it is to give our first responders the resources and funding they need to protect and serve our communities.
As citizens of Dallas, it is our responsibility to stand up and speak to our city leaders, voice our thoughts and concerns, and hold them accountable for actions taken or the lack thereof.
We shall not allow this reformation to take action. The date for the proposal to be brought up again to Dallas City Council is February 11 at 11:00 AM. If we do not stand up and rightfully challenge this action, the City Council is going to push their own agenda into action sometime between February 12 and March 13.
Together we can make a difference through partnerships between communities and our Dallas police officers, allowing our communities to improve relationships and build trust with each other and reduce crime in the city that we call home.
This is a commentary submitted and published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to email@example.com.