DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A mix of questions and concerns remain after a Dallas police officer found himself behind bars this week for allegedly ordering two separate murders back in 2017.
The arrest is being seen as a blow to efforts by the department to build trust within marginalized communities as Bryan Riser was able to remain on the job.READ MORE: North Texas Food Bank Needs Volunteers
“This individual has no business wearing this uniform,” Chief Eddie Garcia said Thursday. It is a different side of the blue line for disgraced officer Riser, who was charged with two counts of capital murder.
“It was shocking,” said a resident who went by Jane when talking with CBS 11 News and lives in the area Riser patrolled. “At the same time, I was not surprised because he probably felt like he could get away with it because he is an officer… and then just to know he patrols this area…”
At the time of his arrest, Riser patrolled in Dallas’ South Central Division. It is a community where the department is working to build better relationships with residents.
Riser’s arrest now complicates that effort.
“It is complicated. At the end of the day, they are human just like us… but, you take an oath when you put that badge on and when you put that uniform on every day. You can’t be participating in activities like that. You just can’t do that,” Jane said.
Jane didn’t want to use her real name, but as a longtime homeowner, she said she is also troubled that Riser was a “person of interest” in the 2017 murders for two years while still patrolling her neighborhood streets.READ MORE: Plano Police Investigating Double Murder, Suspect In-Custody
“You could be creative, right? You could put this person behind a desk or you could assign this individual to an area where they would minimize the contact with the public while your evidence is being built up,” criminologist Alex del Carmen suggested.
Del Carmen agreed that the issue goes beyond the bad optics. There’s also the community’s trust.
So what’s a department to do?
“You know the best way to be able to gain credibility with the community is to be transparent,” del Carmen said. “At the end of the day, the chief came out, he owned it, he talked about it.”
“I still put my faith in the police because who are we gonna call on?” Jane said.
Former Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall, who retired from the department at the end of 2020, released a statement on Thursday that said she consulted with the FBI about the decision to keep Riser on the force for fear of jeopardizing the investigation.MORE NEWS: Multi-Vehicle Crash Kills One Person On I-30 In Arlington
However, FBI special agent in charge Matthew DeSarno disputed that account, saying “There’s no instance during that investigation where the FBI made any recommendation to keep Bryan Riser on duty.”