Three of Dallas’ police associations are claiming that Dallas Assistant Police Chief Christina Smith received special treatment when cops appeared at her Lakewood home in February. The Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas and the National Latino Law Enforcement Organization also claim a follow-up investigation has only made things worse.
On Feb. 11, a Saturday night, police responded to Smith’s home on Nesbitt Drive and arrested her boyfriend, Matthew Hes, for assault. According to an anonymous neighbor quoted by WFAA, Smith and Hes were physically fighting in Smith’s yard. When the neighbor tried to intervene, Hes bit him.
Rather than being thankful for his help, the neighbor said, Smith said she was angry that he’d called the police. “She told me that if we would mind our own business, this wouldn’t be happening,” the neighbor said.
According to the neighbor, Smith then called the Dallas Police Department’s communications division to cancel the 911 call. When police finally showed up, they arrested Hes but not for the fight with Smith.
Five days later the department put Smith, one of DPD’s highest ranking women, on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. But George Aranda, president of the Dallas Chapter of NLLEO, said that the investigation hasn’t been good enough. “The process was circumvented. Actions were not taken to place certain individuals on administrative leave or restricted duty up until five days later, when the media started to ask questions about that incident,” Aranda said. “If it was your typical rank-and-file officer, we would have been placed on restricted duty or administrative leave with our credentials, badge, gun taken away probably within thirty minutes of that incident. It would have been immediate.”
According to the association leaders, because the incident involved such a high-ranking officer, a higher ranking officer should’ve come to the scene to lead the investigation. Executive Assistant Chief Cynthia Villarreal, second-in-command to interim Police Chief David Pughes, was notified of the fight but did not come to the scene. Additionally, the leaders said, Pughes was not notified about the fight until days after it happened.
“There has been a stigma in the police department that the higher your rank is, the easier it is to get away with misconduct,” said Thomas Glover, president of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas. “This is about fairness and what's right. We have to do a complete investigation.”
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Glover, Aranda and Michael Walton, president of the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, all agreed that the lack of an outside investigation of the incident makes it appear as if a cover-up is taking place.
“There is nothing more important than our public trust,” Walton said. “And public trust is where we’re at right now. If there’s something that went awry with this investigation, how can you have any confidence in any other investigation we might do as a police department.”
In a statement, DPD said that it is “committed to conducting a thorough and impartial investigation and taking the appropriate corrective action on any employee found guilty of any violation based on factual information and evidence.” Pughes, the department said, has met with each of the police associations to ensure them that the investigation will proceed thoroughly and fairly.
Hes’ next court date on the assault charge is set for March 20.