Councilmember gets extra special police attention

Dallas police patrol council member's house after truck tailgate was stolen

DALLAS - For almost a month, Dallas City Council member Tennell Atkins got extra special police attention at his house.

It started after Atkins' truck tailgate was stolen Aug. 30.

Records obtained by News 8 show south central patrol officers notating in the computer system that they were on a “routine investigation,” a process known as marking out. They'd spend anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes and sometimes an hour outside of Atkins’ house. It started in early September and appears to have continued until about a week ago.

WFAA spoke to Atkins Monday morning after a council committee meeting.

“I never asked them for anything extra,” Atkins said. He denied speaking to anyone in the command staff about it.

It's common for the department to do what’s known as “extra patrols.” Any resident or business owner can request them. But what is not common is for officers to be directed to “mark out” outside someone’s house and sit there for a period of time.

First Assistant Chief David Pughes said Atkins had, in fact, asked for extra patrols.

He said he was concerned about activities that were going on outside his home late at night. Those concerns included people hanging out outside the council member’s home early in the morning.

Pughes said he was told by south central commanders that officers hadn't been directed to “mark out” outside Atkins’ home.

He was surprised when News 8 showed him proof that it had been occurring.

“If there’s nothing going on, you’re marking out and sitting there for what purpose?” Pughes said. “That’s not the way it was supposed to happen. When somebody requests extra patrol it’s simply to check on it if you have time and we do that for everyone. Marking outside the house is not what that was supposed to be.”

Pughes said he would look into it and ensure it didn't happen again.

“That didn't come from my direction so somehow the communication of what extra patrol was to consist of,” Pughes said. “Communication broke down somewhere.”

Later in the afternoon, Pughes said he had checked back with both the lieutenant and major at that station and both deny giving an order for officers to mark out at the location. It's not clear who gave the order or why officers on different shifts would believe that they needed to do so.

Mike Walton, president of the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, said he was told by south central patrol officers that they were told to go by there and mark out on each shift.

“It's a little disappointing to see that in this time of resources being stretched so thin that you would take out officers in one of the busiest divisions in the city and mark them out there in front of the location where there are calls going on around them,” Walton said. “It feels like there were a lot of things that went on that the average citizen would not be privy to.”

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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