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Remembering July 7: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings Reflects On What Police Still Face

Gerald Herbert
AP Photo
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings enters police headquarters after visiting a makeshift memorial of police cars, in honor of the fie slain Dallas police officers, at their headquarters in Dallas, Saturday, July 9, 2016.

A year ago, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarippa were still riding the rails and patrolling the streets of Dallas. Then came July 7. Mayor Mike Rawlings recalls how the city came through that night and the days that followed.

Rawlings said the city came together because it had prepared for it beforehand.

"[It was really] after Dixon Circle, an incident we had with our police department," Rawlings said. "So when this happened, I think we were doing the right things. I think Dallas was proud in its grief in the way it came together."

Interview Highlights: Mike Rawlings...

...on the changes in Dallas PD, from migration to the suburbs to pension issues:

"This city loves its police officers. We gave them the biggest raise last year than we'd given them in a long, long time, putting them up to competitive wages. The fact that we went through that pension crisis, and we came out the other end to save the pension shows that we were able to do it.

"But, it is a gritty, tough fight to deal with this stuff because you're talking about money. You're talking about taxpayers' money, you're talking about police officers' money, and as everybody knows, you just can't give everybody everything they want. It was a dose of reality [after these] kumbaya moments, and then you gotta get back to the real world at times and power through this." 

...on the recruiting struggles within DPD:

"Being a police officer today in America — it's not just in Dallas — is not an attractive thing for a lot of people. It's a hard job to be able to make a decision in a split-second and know that everybody has got their phone, taking pictures of you. You've gotta save your life, you've gotta enforce the law, you've gotta make sure the civil rights are taken care of, and you gotta to stand up to the nation because you may make a mistake at that moment...We've got to change the dynamic to bring the pride back in being a police officer."  

...on whether the issues of race and policing have improved:

"To the extent that everything is perfect? I don't think so. We have incidences, and we had them in Balch Springs — that wasn't Dallas, but it was close by. And so I think it's fair to be on guard and say, 'We've got a lot of work to do.' But, I know the police officers in this town, they are much more aware and much more sensitive. They know how to de-escalate much better today than they have for years."

Mike Rawlings is the mayor of Dallas. 

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.