Following Protest Report, Some Dallas City Council Members Say They Mistrust Police Chief
The Dallas Police Department and Police Chief Reneé Hall are facing criticism for their response to the first four days of protests, May 29 to June 1, that were ignited by the death of George Floyd.
The DPD recently released an 85-page “After-Action Report'' detailing the police's response and ways to improve. In the report, DPD acknowledged how they struggled with operational plans, communication and keeping a unified command structure.
Earlier this week, city council members met to discuss the report. At the meeting, six council members said they were unhappy with the way police handled the protests and were critical of the chief's leadership during those days. We spoke with The Dallas Morning News’ police reporter Cassandra Jaramillo, who's been closely monitoring these developments.
The following transcript has been slightly edited for clarity.
Cassandra Jaramillo: Several council members expressed that they don't really trust the police chief ( Reneé Hall). And those are very strong words to come from city officials, particularly those who have been supporters of Hall like council member Narvaez. He was one who, with two other council members, had called for an investigation of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge to see if Chief Hall was disobeyed that night of protest.
Now we know it was not rogue behavior, it was failed command structure and communication. I think those who have supported her, wanted to get to the bottom of it, that there was insubordination. Now realize that that's not the case and the fact that they had to wait two months to get this information brought these feelings of mistrust against the police chief.
"The fact that they [community and council members] had to wait two months to get this information brought these feelings of mistrust against the police chief." - Cassandra Jaramillo
Alejandra Martinez: Have you heard, maybe from readers, about their reactions seeing their council members disapproving of Chief Reneé Hall?
CJ: After we saw the six council members speak out and say that they don't trust her (Hall), saying that this has been an embarrassment for the city. I think you have a lot of community people wondering what's next for her future.
How does she move forward with the department from here? And I think people are going to be looking for some very clear answers as it relates to police accountability.
AM: How has race and gender played a role in the concerns over Chief Hall?
CJ: Chief Hall is the first woman and of course the first black woman to hold the position of police chief in the Dallas Police Department. We have seen supporters like a council woman, Carolyn King Arnold, and City Manager T.C. Broadnax publicly express their strong support for Chief Hall and their belief that she has what it takes to lead this department moving forward.
Now, on the flip side, when it comes to this question of, is she being scrutinized unfairly because of her race and gender after these protests, where a lot of these victims of police force are Black and Latino, I think they're saying: That's not connected here. What we're looking at is accountability and leadership.
AM: What are some of the changes Chief Hall has tried to implement in her department?
CJ: When Chief Hall was hired in 2017, there were mostly problems related to the department's response to calls, the lack of staffing and a need for progressive reforms. And so Chief Hall overhauled the police oversight board, and they've also created a new policy that limits the use of these less than lethal weapons and crowd control.
But again, the question remains of how does she move forward and regain the trust of people who felt that at the time, these policies were reactive. While it's something that activists are happy to see, implementation, I think really what's going to be something that they look towards in the future is the "follow through" that will hold these officers accountable.
Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the economic impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @_martinez_ale.
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