DALLAS — Here are two things that don’t seem to go well together lately: Trust and government snooping.
Regardless, that’s what Dallas police Chief David Brown advocated to City Council members wednesday in an effort to give his officer access to the private financial records of criminal suspects.
“This information can be used to take down these organizations — multiple drug houses, open air drug sales," the chief said. "We can access this information."
Brown asked the Council to let officers access private banking and financial information that’s protected under the federal Bank Secrecy Act. Brown said this information — already being collected by the feds, but tightly controlled — would help him take down local drug dealers.
Council member Phil Kingston spoke forcefully against the police chief's proposal.
“I appreciate your advocacy for why you need this, but it’s irrelevant... it’s utterly irrelevant," Kingston said. "I don’t care if you could take down every drug dealer in this city; if you violate my rights to do so, it’s illegal."
Chief Brown told the Council other big cities currently use this information on a routine basis, and that judicial review is already place to protect abuses.
The council passed the chief’s proposal, by a wide margin.
“We keep asking our police to use every tool they possibly can find; this is one of them," Council member Sandy Greyson said. "I’m gonna support it."
The vote lets the City enter into an agreement with the Department of the Treasury to access financial records at no cost to the city.
Brown said the arrangement will let Dallas keep drug money it seizes instead of sharing it with federal agencies.
But it’s the cost to personal privacy that still gives some City Council members pause.