Dallas is adding three city staff members to support its newly revamped citizen police oversight board, and expanding that board’s authority. The former chair says its a step forward in the right direction.
The city has launched a search for one of the positions. The monitor — a liason between the police department and the board — will review completed police investigations and report the findings to board members.
Dr. Brian Williams chaired what used to be the Dallas Police Review Board until 2018. He talked about the potential impact of the changes.
The previous board had a neglible impact on public safety: “The board at the time was made up of volunteers but there was no staff to assist with the day-to-day duties. If a complaint had to be reviewed, we were on our own to review that information and there was a lack of any support staff to assist with the documentation gathering and also to provide any sort of expert input into what we were doing.”
Why adding the monitor is a step in the right direction: "It can ensure thoroughness, as well as fairness. It can protect the citizens and also can protect the officers as well. Consider the size of the police force, the size of the city and the number of potential complaints that may come through. It’s an opportunity for some of these complaints to be handled by mediation as opposed to going through full process coming to the board."
Do people have unrealistic expectations about what to expect from a police oversight board? “I feel we really need to work to try to clarify what oversight means to the police department, and it is not about punishment. It's about accountability. With an office full time to help with this intake process, that should lead a more effective collaboration and, in the end, result with community involvement. There should be better trust, better cooperation and you hope to see that this has a positive impact on crime and the lives of the citizens that are dependent upon the police department for their well-being."