The head of the Dallas Black Police Association joined with police reform activists on Friday in a call for changes at the police department aimed a curbing the misuse of force by officers.
Activists must be "sitting at the table" with police if the city is to find a way to improve relations among police and Dallas' black community, said Lieutenant Thomas Glover, president of the association. He joined prominent activists at a press conference in the aftermath of two more shootings of black men by police, this time in Oklahoma and North Carolina. Freddie Haynes, pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church was on hand, as was Kim Cole, counsel for Next Generation Action Network. Dominique Alexander, president of Next Generation Action Network, was there too. Alexander was released from prison in Huntsville Thursday morning, where he had been serving time on a probation violation. He obtain his released after authorities recalculated the amount of time he had served.
"As a police organization, everyone should know that we are nonviolent and we stress the fact that force against police officers is wrong. We fully support nonviolence, but at the same time we must take a stand against police misuse of force," Glover said.
Glover and his organization suggested several reforms for the Dallas Police Department, many of which echo those the Next Generation Action Network has sought after dozens of police shootings of black men across the country. Glover wants the Dallas Citizens Police Review Board, which investigates police conduct, to have subpoena power. He also called for officers to be given extra diversity training and the creation of early warning systems that could identify cops who might pose a risk to the community.
Building trust between Dallas police and the city's black community means bringing protest groups like Next Generation Action Network to the table to search for solutions, Glover said. The group organized the peaceful protest downtown on July 7 that ended just minutes before a gunman opened fire on police, killing five officers.
"If we don't include Next Generation Action Network, or we don't include Black Lives Matter, if we don't include people like that, what do you think will happen? They will continue to distrust us. We've got to have them sitting at the table and ask them 'What do you want?" Glover said.
Glover called the killing of black men by police in the U.S., culminating in the recent deaths of Keith Scott in Charlotte and Terence Crusher in Tulsa, an epidemic.
"We have a reverence for life; our association is built on that," Glover said. "The epidemic is real."
The Dallas Black Police Association, Glover made clear Friday, doesn't blame Next Generation Action Network for the murders of July 7.
"That march on July 7 was over. It was very peaceful, people were on there way home, they had their children out there. Then, three or four minutes after it was over, the violence erupted from someone who had no connection [to the marchers]. There have been thousands and thousands of protests and marches around this country without any violence," Glover said.
Glover said he didn't consult with any of the other Dallas police associations before presenting his union's plan.
"If I can say this without sounding sarcastic or cynical, if I waited for the other police associations to validate what we do, I'd be sitting at home in my chair right now watching Oprah or something," he said.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.