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Following Jean Killing, Dallas Chief Outlines Department Reforms

Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas police Chief U. Renee Hall talk to reporters earlier this year.EXPAND
Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas police Chief U. Renee Hall talk to reporters earlier this year.
Brian Maschino

Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall intends to significantly change Dallas Police Department procedures for police shootings and supports strengthening Dallas' citizens review board, she said Monday.

Hall's new proposals, once effective, will require Dallas police involved in shootings to give a statement immediately. Under current DPD policy, officers are given 72 hours before they are required to talk to anyone. Officers will also be required to be tested for drugs and alcohol after being involved in a shooting or an accident. The chief said she also plans to provide an update to Dallas residents within five days of any high-profile incident.

"We're looking to do this for all critical incidents," Hall said. "It is something that our community has called for. They want to know that, [just] as we stop them and are able to test and see if they are under the influence that we are held to the same standard." 

The reforms are in line with things Hall has said she's wanted since taking over from former Chief David Brown last September, but the chief's push also comes as activists have leaned on the department after the shooting death of Botham Jean on Sept. 6.

Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger shot and killed Jean in his apartment after, she says, she entered it believing it was her own. She was off-duty at the time, but police initially treated the case as an officer-involved shooting, allowing Guyger to leave without being interviewed. On Monday, Hall fired Guyger, who's been charged with manslaughter.

"We talk about 21st century policing. We talk about Dallas being a world-class city, and we have to set the standard and set the expectation, so I commend you for that," Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Casey Thomas said Monday. "This is definitely the time to move forward. The community has to have a sense of trust."

Dallas' police review board now has no real power, serving only in an advisory capacity to the police department and Dallas City Council. Activists have demanded that it be bulked up and given the power to subpoena and punish officers. Hall wants to strengthen the board, she said Monday. Meetings are ongoing to determine exactly what that should look like, she said.

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If the review board is given teeth, Dallas council member Philip Kingston said, Hall will have accomplished something that previous DPD brass was unwilling or unable to do.

"Particularly with the civilian police review board, there have been calls to strengthen that organization for many years before you arrived," Kingston said. "I think that for people who care about criminal justice reform, they need to understand that you deserve a lot of credit for being the first person in the department really to move that forward."

Hall said that she welcomes increased oversight and transparency for her department.

"If we're operating above board, if we're doing everything that we should be doing as an agency, then we welcome the community to look into our procedures, our policies and say, 'Hey, thank you for a job well done' or, if there are some areas where we need improvement for them to also let us know that as well," Hall said. 

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