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Dallas Police Oversight Board, Meeting For First Time In Months, Wants Better Access To Police Data

Tony Gutierrez
Associated Press
A Dallas police vehicle sits at the entrance of the drive through coronavirus testing location indicating the site is closed for the day in Dallas, Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Dallas’ Community Police Oversight Board met Tuesday night for the first time in months. The five-hour video conference featured public comments and statements from the mayor and police chief.

Tuesday’s meeting began with an eight-minute moment of silence and a reading of the names of black men and women killed in police custody.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson spoke to the Oversight Board next. He reminded board members that they play an important role in the community. 

“The work you’re doing is so important," he said. "And I hope you guys discharge your duties with that in mind. This is real serious. These are people’s lives. And this oversight function is something that the city of Dallas needs to get used to.” 

Johnson also asked the board to think of ways to address crime without leaning on law enforcement. 

Then the city’s first police monitor, Tonya McClary, addressed the board. 

She shared information about police investigations into the death of Diamond Ross — a black woman who died of an accidental drug overdose while in DPD custody in 2018 — and a complaint made against Police Chief Renee Hall. 

McClary also expressed frustration over the limitations of her power and access when investigating police misdeeds.

“If I had independent access, I’d be able to look at body-worn camera footage and do all these other kinds of things in my own purview without having to have somebody over me at the police department, constantly wondering what I’m looking at," she said.

The board unanimously voted to pass a motion granting McClary unfettered access to Dallas police data, including body cams and civilian complaints. They also passed motions to meet more often during the COVID-19 pandemic and to allow non-board members seats on the oversight board’s sub-committees. Those motions will be sent to City Manager T.C. Broadnax for his approval.

Hady Mawajdeh has been a reporter, producer, and digital editor at KERA since 2016. He is the creator and the co-host of KERA's first narrative podcast, Gun Play. And prior to his work in engagement, he also reported on arts and culture, social justice, and gun rights for the newsroom.