After nationwide riots this summer, citizens of a city in North Texas asked local officials for a plan to deal with possible riots on Election Day. They finally received a response, but some citizens remain skeptical.
On October 11, citizen organization Keep Dallas Safe demanded Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax and the city council produce a plan to deal with possible riots on Election Day. They encouraged citizens to make their voices heard as well.
KDS came into being when the city council moved to raid $7 million in taxpayer funds from police overtime to fund other city government programs.
Due to citizen outrage, a majority of council budgeted over $3.8 million of the reallocated $7 million to hire 95 civilians and move an equal number of sworn police officers from desk work to patrol. Only Mayor Eric Johnson and Councilmembers Cara Mendelsohn, Adam McGough, and Jennifer Gates voted against the overtime cut.
KDS organized a rally after the vote, where citizens expressed that they weren’t satisfied with the council’s change in plans, especially after anti-police protests turned into riots that hit their city.
On October 23, KDS ran a poll asking citizens if the Dallas Police Department is prepared for “election-related violence.”
Almost 90 percent of poll respondents “indicated that they didn’t feel the DPD is prepared for the elections.”
Gov. Greg Abbott has also indicated that potential violence around Election Day concerns him, and he has directed the Texas National Guard to dispatch troops to support local law enforcement in five major cities, including Dallas. State elections commissions nationwide are also asking their governors for support from their state’s national guard in cities and voting locations.
In a memo dated October 23, the City of Dallas responded to citizens’ concern for post-election safety.
“In conjunction with our local, state, and federal partners, operational plans have been developed that address supporting election site security, maintaining the ability of individuals to access polling locations, and providing a safe environment for individuals desiring to exercise their First Amendment Rights,” Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune wrote.
Among the preparations underway are “implementing a unified command structure and activating the Emergency Operation Center (EOC),” as well as restricting “discretionary leave” for sworn officers “leading up to and after the elections,” maintaining readiness for immediate response, and command-level exercises to “explore and develop increased operational strengths.”
Commanders have met with election officials for an overview of Election Day Polling process and laws, and with the American Airline Center (AAC) being the largest polling site in Dallas County, a specific operational plan has been prepared which includes the downtown areas.
KDS issued a press release on Monday. “Thanks to the efforts of our supporters, millions of Dallas residents will be much safer in these next few weeks,” they stated.
“God bless Dallas,” Glenda Rich commented.
Not all citizens were satisfied, though.
“’Increased staffing and deployment’ can mean a lot of things, not necessarily what we need,” Deanna Murphy posted. KDS replied that “insiders” have said their requests will be granted, but the group said they will still “[watch] the DPD to see if they follow through with what has been promised.”
“It better happen because the Dallas reputation sucks,” Don Neafus wrote.
“Dallas use to be a nice city,” Bobbie Gregory posted. “I have watched it go to pot in the last 30 years.”
Dennis Calabrese said the police were short 600 officers before the overtime vote this year. “Who are you going to rely on to deal with the ‘unrest?’” he asked.
Despite Fortune’s memo, KDS isn’t finished yet. They reiterated their call for city council to restore “full funding” to the police by undoing the cut to police overtime.
They also want controversial activist Dominique Alexander to be held accountable to the law, saying he “continues to lead roving mobs harassing people and businesses downtown and we will continue to push the Dallas Police to put a stop to these illegal activities.”
KDS does not want Alexander involved in the hiring of the next chief of police, as he had been with the hiring of retiring Chief Renee Hall.
“I have never understood why a criminal like Dominique Alexander is such an asset to anything in this city,” Kimber Polen commented. “He has a long criminal record including hurting women and children.”
“Dallas and Dallas County needs a whole new set of leaders,” Ruby Shankles wrote.
“Back the Blue! Vote out liberal city council!” Jackie Hill posted.
KDS agrees the time for a change has arrived, and the group has called for citizens to step up.
“We need good citizens with or without political experience to run for city council in the May elections,” they posted in a prior call to action.
Citizens concerned about how prepared their city is for riots may contact their city council, mayor, and sheriff’s department.