Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston is not happy with the Observer right now.
"My issue is you reported one side and you didn't get the other side," he told us this morning.
One side, the side we did get, was staked out by Dallas Police Chief David Brown when he suspended field-sobriety-test training last week, and by Black Police Association of Greater Dallas President Cletus Judge in our post on Friday. According to them, a disproportionate number of minority recruits are flunking out of the field-sobriety and driver-training courses, possibly as the result of how the tests are administered.
The other side, represented by the DPA and Pinkston, is that Brown has lowered training standards, thus putting unqualified officers on the streets.
Pinkston called because he still thinks this is the case. He doesn't buy what he calls the "inaccurate statements" Brown has given to the media, i.e. that Assistant Chief Patricia Paulhill was merely following policy when she allowed a black recruit to retake the driving test after multiple failures and that field-sobriety training is in need of a review.
Brown is "now try[ing] to cloud the picture even further and bring race into it," he says. "Race isn't a part of this."
Others agree, including former BPA President Gerry Westry.
"What Chief Brown is trying to do is make this a racial thing, and it's not," he told The Dallas Morning News over the weekend. "This is not about race."
Pinkston passed along statistics showing the number of cops who have flunked out of the police academy over the past several years. It's hard to draw any firm conclusions from the numbers, except that few recruits flunk, and of those that do very few -- some 25 over the past decade (eight white, nine black, six Hispanic, two "other) -- fail any of the practical, versus written, tests. Any discriminatory tendencies of people doing the testing, which Judge suggested might be the case, is impacting a vanishingly small number of people.
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Plus, Pinkston says, the training courses are designed to leave no room for racial discrimination, conscious or otherwise. The field sobriety course, for example, is judged by a panel in front of the entire class, he says.
In Pinkston's view, there's been no discrimination, but a good deal of dissembling from Brown.
"We don't want the standards lowered, because this is a public safety issue [and] a liability issue for the citizens."
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.