Since December of 2019, Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall hosted 15 different listening sessions throughout the city. The purpose was to gather community members’ input and feedback on the department’s 5-year strategic plan. The plan centers around crime reduction, fostering community relationships, increasing recruitment and retention, advancing officer development, improving organizational effectiveness and training and education.
All of the listening sessions were well attended. We sincerely thank the councilmembers, residents, and DPD staff for making the sessions successful. Below are the top five questions and concerns expressed by the residents which some consider, ‘Quality of Life’ issues:
What is DPD doing regarding homelessness and panhandling?
City officials are working to support and serve our neighbors experiencing homelessness through the Office of Homeless Solutions. The staff, in collaboration with other organizations, provide resources and services to accommodate the needs of our homeless residents. Being homeless is not illegal, however, according to City Code, Section 28-63 3 and the Texas Transportation Code 552.007, solicitation by pedestrians in public roadways is. The police department only enforces the rules and laws governed by the city as it pertains to the homeless population. Therefore, DPD will continue to enforce aggressive panhandling complaints and other issues deemed appropriate.
How is DPD working to build community and police relations?
Building community and police relations is everyone’s responsibility within the Dallas Police Department. With a renewed focus on 21st Century Community Policing, DPD has a long history of working to improve community and police relations. We have an office dedicated to proactive community engagement efforts known as the Office of Community Affairs. Within the office, we also have UNIDOS – Hispanic/Latino Coordinators who focus on engaging our Spanish-speaking residents with forums, meetings, and events. There are also youth engagement efforts facilitated by the Youth Outreach Unit. Please follow the links to either unit for additional information. Outside of those two units, there are Neighborhood Police Officer Units in all seven patrol divisions that focus on attending neighborhood and Crimewatch meetings, training and support for the Volunteers in Patrol Program, and work each day on many “Quality of Life” issues within specific neighborhoods. We also have a large social media presence via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, NextDoor, and our DPDBeat blog that helps us further engage our community in a variety of ways.
How is DPD effectively utilizing technology?
Technology is one of the pillars of 21st Century Policing and the Dallas Police Department has made significant headway. The staff continues to strive for efficiency when it comes to resources in utilizing a variety of emerging technologies. Our partnership with Motorola Solutions and Safer Dallas supported a roll-out of the Starlight Program in November of 2019. The Starlight Program is in its pilot phase and is currently at three different locations: (2911 E. Ledbetter Road, 2503 Lemmon Avenue and 11770 Ferguson Road). The Starlight Program utilizes cameras, signage, and real-time monitoring in the DPD Fusion Center. We are also looking to utilize a risk-terrain model which will focus not on people, but places that help us identify and analyze high-crime areas across the city. Our department continues to keep an eye on how our current technology can be used in more effective and efficient ways while ensuring we provide refresher and on-going training to maximize our current capabilities.
What is being done or can be done about random gunfire?
This question has come out throughout all 15 listening sessions and we understand the serious concern that many of our residents have communicated regarding random gunfire. As always, we ask that people call 911 every time they hear gunfire so that we are better able to assess the prevalence and location of where these incidents are taking place. We are also continuing to look into how technology, such as Shot Spotter or other gunfire locator devices, can assist us in being able to better detect and address random gunfire. Such technology can be expensive, but makes it easier to locate and alert the police department in a particular area
How are officers trained to address calls involving mental health? How are we supporting officers’ mental health as a department? There are a variety of trainings our officers go through on how to respond to calls where someone may be experiencing a mental health crisis. Along with the training, we have processes in place that require additional personnel and supervisors be present at the scene. In 2018, we also piloted a successful program in the South Central Division, known as the RIGHT Care team, that provides a rapid response with a team of trained professionals including paramedics from Dallas Fire-Rescue, Parkland Behavioral Health Social Workers, and specially-trained DPD Officers. They were called out during incidents as well as provided follow-up services to those who needed it. We are now in the process of expanding the RIGHT Care team program to include other divisions.
On the same topic of mental health training for officers, we received a lot of questions during the listening sessions about their mental and emotional health. We continue to provide support for DPD’s personnel should they need days off after critical incidents. Psychological services are offered for officers and their families. We also have a peer support program in DPD that allows personnel to call a telephone number that’s readily available, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. There is a peer on the other end of the line, trained and ready to discuss crucial issues with anyone in a confidential manner.