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May the force be justified: Dallas Police get $1.4 million to track how officers make arrests

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Dallas Habitat Photos
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Flickr Creative Commons
The Dallas Police Department will hire a company that analyzes data on the use of force by officers.

The Dallas Police Department will get almost $1.4 million to track how officers use force during arrests. Law enforcement agencies across the nation have adopted a similar program to do that after high-profile deaths and other violent incidents involving people of color and the police in recent years.

DPD will hire Police Strategies LLC to analyze incident reports and officer statements. The company developed a program known as the "Police Force Analysis System" that has turned such data into an online dashboard available to the public in other cities.

Dallas City Council unanimously approved a four-year contract Wednesday.

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia is familiar with how the Police Force Analysis System works. When he was chief of police in San Jose, California, his department used it to improve how officers interacted with people during arrests. The data was made available to the public in 2018. A local NAACP official said in a 2020 news report that he likes that “the numbers are reflecting a downward trend.”

Dallas' system will also provide the public with information on use of force incidents through an online dashboard. It will track police incidents by race, gender and location. And it will analyze if what officers did was justified.

Terrance Hopkins, president of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas said he sees value in that type of program.

“The price point is hefty. But what does the city consider the value of restoring its law enforcement relationship with the communities?” Hopkins said.

Hopkins said the police officers need to restore trust with the communities they serve.

“We're doing everything we can do as public servants to rectify that situation,” Hopkins said.

The City of Dallas doesn't currently have a dashboard available to the public that tracks how its officers use force. DPD has said they are voluntarily participating in the FBI’s efforts to track use of force nationwide.

Police officials from other agencies have said tracking such information can improve police accountability, increase transparency and help officers do a better job. The system tracks data from 88 law enforcement agencies from seven states, according to the Police Strategies website.

Hopkins said that such data not only show when an officer uses force, but also why.

“When you get the 'why' you get the reason it was used and the clarification on whether it was justified or not,” he said.

Hopkins said he trusts Garcia’s commitment to strengthen ties with the community and will advocate for this service.

The Dallas Police Department’s public information office refused to release information on the program prior to the city council meeting.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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