New DPD policies after officer-involved shooting get mixed reviews

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on August 10, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 10 at 10:25 PM

DALLAS - Dallas police chief outlined new strategies for dealing with officer-involved shootings following last month's fatal shooting of James Harper.

"I am announcing new policies and strategic objectives that I believe will positively impact officer safety and improve public trust and confidence," said Chief David Brown in statement released by DPD Friday.

Eight new policies and strategies were listed in the statement, including:

  • Formalize a process of concurrent investigative review with the FBI Civil Rights Office of all officer-involved shootings
  • Implement a more comprehensive Response to Resistance reporting system 
  • Develop a foot-pursuit policy
  • Re-implement the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) Review Team
  • Implement a mandatory electronic control weapon (Taser) training policy for all officers
  • Enhance the Department’s consensual search policy to include the requirement for a written and/or recorded consent
  • Research best practices that have come from critical incidents or institutional failures in public safety from around the nation
  • Assemble a special Community Policing Strategic Team of officers for the Dixon Circle community

The Dallas Police Association said what the chief released is too general, and they don’t have enough details yet. So far they don't see any drastic changes.

"In the past, it would just come out -- a policy would just come out," said Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston. "I don't think the media would get a copy of it, or anybody else. ... [Chief Brown] trying to show the media and public that we are working to improve ourselves."

"This is probably something that should have been done a long time ago," said Rev. Ronald Wright, a frequent DPD critic.

The foot pursuit-policy has already brought controversy from a Dallas police group.

Chief Brown said he wants to change the policy so officers are better trained to deal with high-risk situations, to prevent the confrontation from escalating to a deadly force situation.

The Dallas Latino Peace Officers’ Association released a statement saying it is not in favor of any major changes to the foot-pursuit policy. They believe it will cast doubt in officers’ minds if they should chase and could put people in danger.

The policy requiring all officers go through Taser training will also be a major change, as the department currently doesn't have enough Tasers for all officers.

"We were under the assumption that all officers were trained to use the Tasers, and only 'til this incident, were we shocked he didn't have a Taser," Wright said.

Brown is also going to require officers get recorded or written consent when conducting a consensual search, which are searches where officers don't have a warrant. Many officers already do this.

Harper was shot on July 24 after officers raided a Dallas home in response to a false 911 call from a man claiming he witnessed a kidnapping in the 5300 block of Borquin Street. Drugs and guns were found inside the house.

Officer Brian Rowden became involved in a foot chase with suspect Harper, 31. The suspect allegedly attacked Rowden several times before the officer fired the shots. Brown said the officer feared for his life.

Keenan Johnson was later arrested for allegedly making the original false 911 call on July 24. Police said Johnson told them Harper and another person physically attacked him, and he allegedly made the call in retaliation.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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