Dallas officers attend union meeting to talk frustrations with policy changes

Dallas officers attend union meeting to talk frustrations with policy changes

Credit: WFAA

The Dallas Police Association headquarters in the Cedars.

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by SEBASTIAN ROBERTSON

WFAA

Posted on January 14, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 14 at 5:35 PM

DALLAS –– It was standing room only inside Tuesday’s Dallas Police Association meeting, a closed-door affair billed as a chance for officers to air grievances about their department’s policies.

“Management hasn’t been listening to the officers. We had to get other people involved,” said Ron Pinkston, the association’s president. 

Pinkston hosted the meeting and invited several local lawmakers to attend. The meeting comes weeks after Dallas Police Chief David Brown fired a 12-year veteran for “firing her weapon upon an unarmed person without fear or justification.” 

Dash camera video obtained by News 8 shows Senior Cpl. Amy Wilburn shooting a 19-year-old carjacking suspect in the abdomen. The teen would live, Wilburn would be fired and the Dallas Police Department would once again be scrutinized over one of its officer's use of force. The teen, Kelvion Walker, was not armed and has filed a civil suit against Wilburn alleging excessive force.

Pinkston criticized the firing in a letter sent to Interim City Manager A.C. Gonzales earlier this month. 

"No longer can an officer quickly drive to a man with a gun, robbery in progress or domestic abuse call because the officer no longer believes he/she can use deadly force, without fear of being terminated," read the letter.

Since the shooting, Dallas Police Chief David Brown has implemented changes to his department’s use of force policy. In a press release issued late last year, he vowed to “increase transparency, officer accountability and to build on the public’s trust and confidence in the police department.”

These changes include establishing a supervisory use of force training team to train all officers in response tactics. Brown also called for the involvement of community groups for input on best practices on the use of force and said he would notify and conduct a concurrent investigative review with the FBI’s Civil Rights Office.

The department is also field testing 50 body cameras and has lobbied the City Council to equip 2,500 officers with them.  

“I think it is up to the public safety committee to sit down very quickly and review those policies and make sure that we are all on the same page,” said Dallas Councilman Rick Callahan.

He said he feels the officers respect the hierarchy of their organization but he also understands the value of allowing them a venue to speak freely about changes that could come to their department. 

“They don’t want a knee-jerk reaction,” Callahan said. “Every time something happens lets change the policy, let’s withhold part of their ability to serve the public.” 

Email srobertson@wfaa.com

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