“Dignity for Dallas” Report Urges Long-Overdue Reforms in Policing of Communities of Color in Dallas

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
September 10, 2020 12:45 pm

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DALLAS – Community advocacy groups today released a report, “Dignity for Dallas,” highlighting key findings on Dallas policing as well as a list of recommendations to improve law enforcement practices with model ordinances and policies.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Dallas Black Clergy Coalition, Dallas Community Police Oversight Coalition, DSA-North Texas Racial Justice Working Group, Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square, For Oak Cliff, Mi Familia Vota, Mothers Against Police Brutality, MOVE Texas, North Texas Immigration Coalition, Our City Our Future, RAICES Texas, Texas Organizing Project, Texas Working Families Party, and Workers Defense Action Fund, collectively authored the report to bring attention to an over-investment in police in Dallas. Between 1982 and 2016 in Dallas, inflation-adjusted spending on police doubled and per capita spending increased by 46 percent, according to the report. Today, 37 percent of the city of Dallas’ unrestricted general fund, representing $516 million, goes to Dallas Police.

“In Dallas and across the country, the underlying problem with policing is not just a lack of training and procedures or a problem with ‘bad apples,’” said Nick Hudson, policy and advocacy strategist for the ACLU of Texas. “It is the broadening of the scope and responsibilities of police, enabled by expanding budgets, that has spurred street-level harassment of communities of color, fueled mass incarceration, and led to the unlawful use of excessive force and killing of Black people.”

In addition, Dallas has a long history of unaccountable police violence, with people of color fatally shot by officers at a higher rate than white people. That racial disparity continues relative to the high number of arrests of people of color and the rates of imprisonment vs. diversion. From October 2018 to December 2019, Black people accounted for 54 percent of arrests for citable Class A & B offenses, even though they make up only 25 percent of Dallas’ population.

“Over-policing, racial profiling, and police brutality are not making our communities safer or the city more just,” said John Fullinwider, co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality. “We need less policing and more affordable housing, more health care, more community arts and culture, and more good paying jobs in Dallas.”

The “Dignity for Dallas” report identifies the following areas for improvement and key recommendations:

  1. Cut the Dallas Police Department budget by 35 percent and reinvest in community priorities such as public health and safety initiatives;
  2. Further restrict when and how officers can use deadly force;
  3. Pass an ordinance eliminating discretionary arrests for people who could be sent home;
  4. Prohibit police from enforcing a range of minor offenses such as traffic and other minor offenses;
  5. Strengthen community police oversight.

The report findings and recommendations will be shared with city leaders and will be used by advocates to push for better policing in Dallas.

“For over 100 days now the people of Dallas have hit the streets and made it clear they want investment in our community and not the police,” said Walter “Changa” Higgins of the Dallas Community Police Oversight Coalition. “It’s time for the City of Dallas to realize that increasing police budgets and disproportionately throwing handcuffs on Black people don’t decrease crime or make our communities better. This report represents the voice of the people and the people are demanding real action.”

“Our City Our Future has researched the numbers and interviewed over 700 constituents and we distilled their ideas into a comprehensive budget analysis,” said Angela Faz, co-founder of Our City Our Future. “Since 2017 for every dollar spent on the police, Dallas spent 1 penny on housing, only 4 cents on art and culture, and less than a penny on environmental issues. Residents we spoke to from every district were clear: divest from DPD and reinvest in the people of Dallas.”

“Dallas was the first city in Texas to be deemed a Welcoming City yet is one of the top cities in the country for separation of families and deportations,” said Maria De Jesus “DJ” Garza, Workers Defense Action Fund Dallas Campaign Organizer. “To live up to its promise to immigrant communities, Dallas must divest from over-policing and pass an ordinance eliminating discretionary arrests that lead to the arrest to deportation pipeline.”

“Right now our communities are struggling, we are facing a pandemic, a record-high unemployment rate and despite all of that we are proud to engage in civic participation through voting,” said Liz Magallanes, Mi Familia Vota Dallas Coordinator. “During these times we must protect communities of color and our immigrant communities. The best way to do that is through civic participation and voter engagement. We must hold elected officials accountable and make sure our voices are heard at the ballot box.”

“When we advocate for immigrants’ rights, this includes our Black brothers and sisters,” said Gabriella L. Castillo, Dallas Community Organizer for RAICES. “At the end of the day, the systems that are criminalizing us, that are separating our families, and that are killing us are the same. We need to divest from the police and invest in communities of color; we want options, more than just the police.”

A copy of the report is available here: https://www.aclutx.org/sites/default/files/dignity_for_dallas.pdf

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