Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter
DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Several hundred youngsters gathered in downtown Dallas for a police sponsored pep rally of sorts. The goal of the event, dubbed ‘Let’s Talk,’ was to give police officers the opportunity to listen and also become proactive in shaping youngsters’ impressions of police.
Andrea Osegueda couldn’t decide what was the most fun—but, she didn’t miss the point. The 11-year-old explained, “Mostly that the police officers, they are trained to do good in our community and not like the videos that I’ve been watching.”
“Officers have made mistakes,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said, adding, “we have got to admit that we are human. We make mistakes. Some of the incidents have been horrible…the situation in South Carolina was horrible. The situation recently in Cincinnati was horrible and it paints all of us with a broad brush.” And a bad one.
Chief Brown says police shootings elsewhere absolutely affect relationships in North Texas, especially among young people who are so heavily influenced by social media.
“We’re not saying that we don’t have things that we can improve,” he said, “we’re saying, ‘Let’s Talk’. Let’s talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s be frank with each other. We want our officers to listen to these young people and be responsive to what their concerns are.”
And the message is especially important if what officers are hearing isn’t always positive. Chief Brown admitted, “We have got to really listen to what people are saying now about how they don’t trust police. Not to say that all police are bad… we have got to work and earn that trust and know that it’s very fragile.”
Three years ago, that fragile trust was tested in Dallas’ Dixon Circle neighborhood. A grand jury later cleared the officer involved. But, at the time, the community came dangerously close to violence following the shooting of an unarmed black man—with much of the anger fueled by internet rumors. Still, Chief Brown believes that with the community on the brink, police relationships made the difference. He says ‘Let’s Talk’ is an effort to bank ‘good will’ before a crisis hits—by starting with the young.
Meanwhile, Andrea admits that her impressions have already been influenced. She said that she’s led to believe, “that they’re the bad guys—but, really they’re the good guys.”
Out of the mouths of babes, perhaps, but Dallas police officials know that the young ones will one day be adults and their impressions are being formed now.
(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)