DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A team of outside experts has made dozens of recommendations on how to improve the Dallas Police Department.
The experts include current and retired police chiefs, a prosecutor, and a state law enforcement agent and all are from outside Texas.
Their suggestions are part of an independent assessment conducted for the department.
The 72 recommendations focus on general management, patrol operations, the vice unit, internal affairs, media relations and community affairs, and technology.
Among the suggestions, establishing team-building training for all chiefs, developing a five year strategic plan for the department, and merging speciality units in patrol divisions, including neighborhood patrol officers, crime reduction and deployment teams.
City council member Philip Kingston applauds the assessment, especially the call for a strategic plan. “I think that is a really good recommendation, and so the good part of the report, is that it appears to be a group of best practices from chiefs from around the country and I think that’s valuable.”
The assessment also recommends DPD reinstate the vice unit, which handles gambling and prostitution crimes.
Chief Renee Hall suspended the unit last fall, but didn’t give detailed reasons.
No word if the department has concluded its internal investigation into the unit and whether it will be reinstated.
The experts also suggest a review of the unit’s procedures, and establish those involving money — how it’s collected and accounted for.
They also recommend meetings between the Chief, District Attorney, City Attorney and Chief Judge on how officers can conduct undercover investigations into prostitution crimes.
The President of the Dallas Police Association says the unit must be reinstated to protect the most vulnerable from sex trafficking. “There are people more often than not underage and forced into sex labor for profit that another person takes in. So we need detectives out there minimizing that.”
Mata believes the report reinforces the need for DPD to hire more officers. “What it comes down to is we need more people to be able to staff and be able to do the expected job the citizens are asking us to do.”
While Councilman Kingston praises the assessment, he says there are two things lacking: a way for council members and the city to measure if the recommendations are working once enacted.
He also says it should have included discussion on a timely topic. “There is no mention, not even passing mention of criminal justice reform, which is one of the most important topics in American politics right now, and something I think all police departments should be dealing with.”
Kingston says what alarms him is the number of African-Americans and Latinos being arrested on drug charges compared to the number of Anglos.
Chief Hall is out of town this week, and was unavailable for an interview Tuesday.