After more than a year of makeshift enforcement for crimes like gambling and prostitution, the Dallas Police Department is finally set to roll out its reconstituted vice unit later this week, Assistant Chief Paul Stokes said Monday.
Twenty-one officers will staff the new unit, three-quarters of the number that worked for the vice squad under former Dallas police Chief David Brown. New Dallas Chief U. Renee Hall disbanded her department's old vice unit two months after taking over for Brown in December 2017 and announced she was launching an investigation into the unit.
"Right now, we found that there are some inconsistencies relative to procedure, protocol and our policies," Hall said Nov. 9, 2017. "We need to take a look at that to make sure we are operating at the highest level of integrity."
Over the next year, little has been made public about the results of the investigation, but Stokes gave the public a small peek Monday. None of the officers who will begin serving in vice Wednesday have worked in the unit before, Stokes said.
"We're really starting vice in a whole different direction," Stokes said. "We're bringing in all new detectives. None of the old vice detectives will be in the unit. We're going to train them [to have] a different approach of accountability, compliance and a victim-centric approach when it comes to prostitution."
The allegations made against the previous vice unit revolved around the mishandling of evidence and cash used in investigations, Stokes said, but investigators were unable to determine whether any officers did anything criminal.
"Prior to November 2017, there were instances in the vice unit that rose to behavior that our public integrity unit needed to look at. It could've been criminal behavior, based on those allegations," Stokes said. "When our public integrity unit looked at that, they couldn't substantiate it based on intent, that the officers had intended to commit a criminal act."
The new unit will be given new standard operating procedures for how to deal with cash, property and other evidence, Stokes said.
"We shored up that [standard operating procedure] much like how our narcotics officers deal with confidential informants, property, money and such," Stokes told reporters.
In addition to new training methods for officers, DPD's new vice unit will also focus on diversion along with enforcement. The department will partner with community groups and use Dallas' community courts to limit prostitution in the city, rather than throwing sex workers in jail as a first response, Stokes said.
"The vice unit will still do investigations. They will still make arrests, but we're engaging these [non-governmental agencies] in our community because we want them to reach out and break the cycle of behavior," Stokes said. "[We're] getting people to help us before we have to engage and make an arrest to correct the behavior."
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