Moving past identity politics w/new DPD Chief Hall

August 1, 2017 § Leave a comment

1500789806351Chief Hall is the newly chosen Chief of Dallas Police Department. Transferred from Detroit as a chief deputy, Hall beat out the popular internal choice, Chief deputy Malik Aziz. She’s a Delta and Grambling State graduate. For obvious reasons, Chief Hall has received a lot of praise from different corners.

While Chief Hall shouldn’t be reduced to only being a “black female” or the “first female chief,” refusing to praise this advancement is almost on par with neutralizing our politics. Refusing to acknowledge this – desexualizing and deracializing our politics – does everyone a disservice. The community is hard at work to ensure your representation – as a Black woman – is possible.

Moving past identity politics…


Right now is the perfect time to put in place bi-partisan policies necessary to improve community relations. A few days ago President Trump encouraged law enforcement officers to disregard the Constitution by treating suspects with harm. Last week, another Minneapolis policeman shot an unarmed person, this time, Justine Damone, a white woman. Similar to Antoinette Brown serving as a sacrificial lamb on the issue of stray dogs in South Dallas, the timely death of this white woman introduces the real possibility of establishing fair guidelines for the body worn camera policy.

Neither Officer Noor or his partner body cameras were activated at the time of Damone’s death. Why? I don’t know and I won’t check into Minnesota’s laws. Damone was just another victim of spilled-over police violence that normally occurs in African-American neighborhoods. Next time, a notice will be put out in case the point was missed that, Hey, these policemen are cray-cray. In case #BlackLivesMatter and children killed while sleeping or on playgrounds or SWBW (Shopping While Black at Walmart) wasn’t enough, a nice dish of blonde hair, blue eyed spiritual teacher is served to your liking.

If a blonde hair, blue eyed white woman in pajamas can get killed by police, you know damn well something is up with police training which has to lead to so much recklessness and death. For bonus points, mix in some racial biases, fear of masculinity then try to imagine life for a black male suspect – YIKES. The discussion and actualization of a sensible, citizen-centered body camera policy should start now before another innocent person dies at the hands of LEOs for seemingly no reason other than an irrational fear for their life.

Minnesota is not the only state where body cameras are underutilized. Texas attempted to deal with this matter last year with S.B. 158 which essentially gives autonomy to the department receiving the body camera grant. Having been a tough critic of S.B. 158, authored by State Sen. Royce West, there is an opportunity we can jump on that is provided by the language of the law.

S.B. 158 states the agency shall create:

  • “guidelines for when a peace officer should activate a camera or discontinue a recording currently in progress…”
  • “guidelines for public access…”
  • and a last important part which refers to the “72 Hour Rule”, “provisions entitling an officer to access any recording of an incident involving the officer before the officer is required to make a statement about the incident.”

 

In short, S.B. 158 gives Chief Hall the chance to adopt the most enlightened – dare I say PROGRESSIVE –  body camera policy in the country. The chance is only noticed if you have the will. Does Chief Hall have the will and courage?

Does she stand a chance getting this past the city attorney and assistant city manager? Will she get support from her fellow city councilpersons? Maybe one council person who doesn’t look like you.

Lastly, in addition to a thoughtful camera policy,  a review on the effectiveness of the Citizens Review Board is necessary. As of now, the CRB lacks subpoena power and overall aren’t perceived as a serious or consequential body. I agree with you that it “takes a whole city to police.” Ask City Council to bless this review.

Chief Hall, I am putting you to the test. Hall, if you support improving community relations, if you want to cease the demi-god and citizen-slave dynamic, if you want to stand apart from your predecessor – be the first chief to support the community and support a body worn camera policy that puts the citizen needs first and foremost. Not the Dallas Police Association suggestions and concerns. Fortunately, you don’t have to put the weight all on your shoulders and you don’t need all the answers right now. Reach out to the same people and groups who interviewed you weeks ago – except DPA President Mike Mata – and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Yeah. There is work to do Chief Hall. Welcome to Dallas.

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