After weeks of protests, the Dallas Police Department is making changes. Chief Reneé Hall announced Tuesday that the department will now release videos when police shoot people or are accused of using excessive force within 72 hours of someone being hurt or dying. The policy also applies to deaths in police custody.
“This is another step in our efforts to establish a foundation of transparency and trust among DPD and our communities,” Hall said in a statement.
People who keep an eye on the department are wary about the changes.
"This policy acknowledges that the police department will continue killing people," said Sara Mokuria, co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, "and does not create any mechanism to mitigate the harm that this police department continues to put on our community."
Mokuria's organization is asking for clearer use-of-force policies, and she wants the city to identify alternative first responders, which could limit the number of contacts police officers have with the community.
Changa Higgins, who chairs the Dallas Police Oversight Coalition, said his group has been urging this kind of change for years.
“Since protests have happened, we’ve seen a lot of talk," he said. "At the same time we’ve seen Chief Hall take a lot of decisions that are directly in opposition to all of that talk and rhetoric."
Higgins is still a bit skeptical.
"I'm just waiting to see what actually the general order looks like and how much of the recommendations did she [Hall] take from the Office of Police Oversight," he said.
Previously, police video was released on a case-by-case basis. Often, in some of the department’s more controversial cases, like the in-custody deaths of Tony Timpa and Diamond Ross, obtaining video could take years.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the chief still has “discretion to publicly release, in whole or in part” video recordings related to critical incidents. The new policy does “not waive the department’s right to withhold other audio or video recordings or investigative materials" in the same or any other case.
Still, the new policy does provide an opportunity for a person injured by police — or their next of kin if the person is killed in police custody — to review the footage before the public release. It also allows the director of the Office of Community Police Oversight Board, the district attorney and the officers involved to see a video before its release.
Read the Dallas Police department's full statement below.
Got a tip? Hady Mawajdeh is KERA's reporter on the national Guns & America project, and Alejandra Martinez is a Report for America corps member who writes about the economic impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities for KERA News. Email them at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow them on Twitter @hadysauce and @_martinez_ale.
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