Dallas residents and council members protest overpolicing by DPS
A coalition of elected officials in Dallas are calling on the Dallas Police Department to reboot their recent initiative to reduce crime — an initiative that's causing some residents to feel like they're being targeted because of race.
In early July, the DPD enlisted the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to patrol eight areas found to have the most violent offenses involving guns, gangs, and drugs.
The first area being targeted is in the South Central District.
Residents and elected representatives held a community meeting on July 30 to express their concerns about the increased police presence and the number of traffic stops by DPS troopers.
At an August 1 press conference, City Council member Adam Bazaldua, who represents part of the district being targeted, said that the DPS is not the right group for the job.
Bazaldua, who was joined District Attorney John Creuzot, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, and City Council members Adam Medrano, Chad West, Omar Narvaez, and Jaime Resendez, said that the DPS does not have the right training for the kind of policing the neighborhood needs.
"DPS troopers are not the bad guys," Bazaldua said. "They're only doing what they are trained to do, but there needs to be a focus on community policing, and that’s not in the scope of DPS."
According to figures from the city, there have been approximately 9,000 traffic stops during this operation but resulting in citations for less than seven percent.
They’ve issued about 12,000 warnings and written 547 tickets.
DPS agents have seized more than 70 guns, more than 37 pounds of marijuana, approximately 0.5 pounds of methamphetamine, and more than 1.5 pounds of cocaine.
Troopers have made more than 400 arrests and served more than 250 warrants.
But even the DPD acknowledges that these actions haven't made headway, with murder and robbery offenses still up 33 percent and 34 percent, respectively, in this area compared to 2018. And the area is still experiencing the highest volume of reported violent crime offenses of the targeted enforcement areas.
"I support the police department and appreciate the sacrifice they've made in keeping our city safe," Bazaldua said. "That's what we expect from our police department, to make us feel safe and protect our community. But right now, we're in a situation where members of the community are feeling unprotected and profiled."
"We've seen the tone on a national level, that has understandably created divisions with communities of color and our law enforcement," he said. "Our justice system cannot get behind initiatives that are overpolicing black and brown communities."
Bazaldua says he's asked the DPD to go back to the drawing board and figure out where resources would be better served.