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Dallas police officer suspended over racist ‘challenge coin,' chief says

A Dallas Police car.
Black Police Association of Greater Dallas
An unidentified officer, who is white, was placed on leave for creating a racist challenge coin. They work in the department’s South Central Patrol Division.

The unidentified officer, who is white, works in the department’s South Central Patrol Division.

A Dallas police officer has been placed on administrative leave after creating and sharing a racist challenge coin, according to the city’s police chief.

The unidentified officer, who is white, works in the department’s South Central Patrol Division, Chief Eddie Garcia said at a Wednesday press conference. The division serves a large Black population in South Dallas.

"I'm going to tell you right now, I'm not having it," Garcia said. "It's not going to continue on my watch. We have a standard at the Dallas Police Department. I will not allow an individual to stain that and to tarnish our badge and what we're doing."

Challenge coins are small tokens traditionally collected and held by members of law enforcement or the military, often intended to boost morale or comradery. They can sometimes depict an official insignia alongside a slogan or character. But in some cases, such coins have come under fire for the use of offensive imagery.

The South Central Patrol coin — which police officials say was shared online but ultimately taken down before being distributed — depicts the Pillsbury Doughboy with gold teeth, holding money and what appears to be an AK-47. Terrance Hopkins, president of the Black Police Association, noted the character’s association with rapper-actor Ice Cube’s character Darrin "Doughboy" Baker in the 1991 film Boyz n the Hood. A police vehicle is also shown angled toward a purple car with large gold rims.

The coin is emblazoned with the words “Big ‘T’ Plaza,” a reference to a Dallas store that Hopkins and others said serves a majority Black community.

"These are all components of the southern sector," Hopkins said, "which they believe — the community believes — has been shown in a very negative light from somebody that they believe is supposed to serve and protect them."

Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.