The Dallas Police Association has a 10-point plan for reforming the department to help fix a problem with low moral among its members. Among other things, the plan calls for changes to policies regarding when police can use force, and new rules for foot chases and job transfers. And in an interview Tuesday, association President Ron Pinkston emphasized the importance of being transparent about the department's inner workings and of maintaining department ethics by following policy, reformed or not.
"You have to have ethics," Pinkston says. "You can't just worry about the officer at the bottom. You got to have the same at the top. Your leadership has to show they have ethics. You have to adhere to all the policies and guidelines of the Dallas Police Department, not just the guys at the bottom but the people at the top who are writing those policies. They have to follow those policies too."
Being ethical, for example, might include being consistent in how the department releases information during police investigations. "If you have a policy that [states] you won't release something until the investigations completed," Pinkston says, "that policy needs to be out there where the public knows and all the officers know that's what we're going to do. We're going to be consistent with our policy."
Pinkston has been critical of Chief David Brown> In July, when Brown told The Dallas Morning News he thought it was time for Dallas to have one police union, not the four major ones it has now, Pinkston said Brown actually wanted the opposite because a unified voice for officers wouldn't be good for Brown.
The union president also called for the department to be more transparent. "It needs to be evident to the public what is happening in their police department," Pinkston says. "It's their department."
He added that part of being transparent is also admitting your mistakes. "If we do break our policy, we're going to be transparent about it and put out why we're doing it. That transparency's very important to the public's trust of the police department. The chief can't hide behind the thin blue line of trying to cover up anything. If a chief violated a policy, you need to say it."
Another important part of the plan is instituting some standards to be able to reach the rank of major or chief.
"Do you need a bachelor's degree? Do you need a master's degree? Do you need to live in the city of Dallas? [If someone says] I want to be a chief, this is what I need to do to be a chief. This is what I have to do do be a major," Pinkston says. "It needs to be out there. The public needs to know what we expect of our chiefs coming up. You're getting the qualifications you want from your chief. A chief might promote somebody because they're friends, not because they're qualified. There's no room for that in the Dallas Police Department. If we're going to be the best police department in the country, we got to promote the best."
Pinkston says he's talked with Brown about most of the plan's points and the chief has been receptive to most of them. (You can read the DPA's proposal in full below.)
"It's my desire to work with all the union groups," Brown said in a statement, "but it is my obligation to insure we maintain the public's trust and confidence. Such that where union demands jeopardize that trust, we will not move forward."
Send your story tips to the author, Sky Chadde.
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.