The accusations leveled last week by Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston were serious: Dallas PD was relaxing standards for its driving- and firearms-training courses to allow unqualified recruits to become cops. More serious, certainly, than his assertion that keeping cops from shooting people, or allowing Avi Adelman to legally film them, will harm public safety.
And Pinkston seemed to know what he was talking about. The letter he sent to City Manager A.C. Gonzalez and other city officials identified one recruit, who repeatedly failed the Police Vehicle Operations Course test, by name. The name was redacted by the time The Dallas Morning News got a copy, but the information was pretty specific:
Recruit [redacted] did not pass his PVOC Test and was offered a retest, which he again failed. Recruit [redacted] was then allowed to take the test two more times after remedial training. Again, he failed both times. A recommendation for termination was sent up through the chain of command, which is in accordance with our Department rules and established training standards.
Instead of following training standards and proceeding with termination, the Academy was directed by the command staff to continue to remediate Recruit [redacted] until he passed. Recruit [redacted] was then remediated and eventually passed PVOC after multiple additional attempts.
Similarly, the department "has significantly reduced the standards of their firearms training to allow an officer, who is a marginal shooter, to be remediated until they qualify."
DPD Chief David Brown responded the next day by issuing a categorical denial.
"We take these allegations very seriously and will not tolerate the lowering or downgrading of our training standards," Brown said.
The department had conducted a thorough, day-long review, which "involved speaking with involved employees at the police academy and the firearms training center," and "revealed no facts to support the allegation that anyone directed that the recruit be remediated until he passed the PVOC course."
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The recruit did, it seems, get multiple stabs at the driving course, but this was in accordance with rules passed in 2012. The firearms training policies were last amended in 2009. There were "no facts to support" the allegation that an unqualified shooter was allowed to pass.
In response to Pinkston's letter, Brown has directed internal affairs to launch an "administrative inquiry" to "ascertain the source of these allegations."
Pinkston responded to the response by calling on Brown to release documents -- memos, test scores, letters of termination and Texas Commission on Law Enforcement documents -- and to allow department trainers and police academy staff to speak publicly.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.