DALLAS — The City of Dallas is aiming to strengthen its Citizens Police Review Board, which examines alleged inappropriate police behavior within the Dallas Police Department.
According to a memo from City Manager T.C. Broadnax, Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall began meeting with community groups in October of 2017 that were clamoring for a stronger Citizens Police Review Board.
Currently, the board cannot subpoena officers and has no budget to perform its own investigations.
Meaning, in theory, if an officer is involved in some sort of misconduct while on the job, use-of-force situation, or shooting the review board is hindered from doing its own independent investigation into the matter.
In its mission statement, this is currently the board’s responsibilities.
- A means for citizens to communicate their concerns regarding alleged inappropriate police behavior;
- An avenue for the public to obtain some remedial action regarding Internal Affairs Division investigations and Division Referral reviews in circumstances in which the Board deems same appropriate and as provided for in the Board's enabling ordinance;
- A vehicle (the Board) for making impartial recommendations for changes or improvements in the operation of the Dallas Police Department;
- An advisory body to the City Council with regard to the operations and policies of the Dallas Police Department, its policies, operations, and practices, as well as the public's perception of same.
In Broadnax’s memo, there are several recommendations being made by the Community Police Oversight Board Coalition to give the police review board more teeth.
Those recommendations include allowing the board to subpoena officers, creating an independent investigative arm, giving the board the ability to implement policy, and conducting external investigations of complaints from the public to ultimately make recommendations for discipline.
The board would also get its own budget, something it currently does not have.
The memo also says that the coalition recommended that there be a way for citizens to file complaints about officers online and in-person. The department now allows citizens to do that on its website.
The memo also recommends an early warning monitoring system that, “…allows supervisors to monitor, report, and archive officer actions and improve accountability.”
Broadnax reported that a monitoring system is in the developmental phase.
But what would ultimately give the public a better way to investigate its officers lies in the recommended subpoena and investigative powers.
Council members will decide to approve those powers as early as February or March of next year.
The push for a stronger review board was heightened earlier this year after 26-year-old Botham Jean was shot and killed in his own apartment by former Dallas Police cop Amber Guyger.