Tuesday, January 25, 2022 Jan 25, 2022
56° F Dallas, TX

Street Smarts

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The chalkboard is covered with scribbling, the students have their notebooks open and teacher has her 9mm semiautomatic pistol holstered at her hip. Class is in session.

No, this isn’t a new DISD course; it’s a class in the Dallas Citizen’s Police Academy, which graduated its first class in June. The DCPA was created “so citizens could understand the police’s viewpoints, and we theirs,” says Capt. David James, the DPD training division commander. “We have some outspoken citizens here, and if they have a criticism of our policies or procedures, we’ll hear it. If we develop relationships, we’ll make progress.”

The 32 students for the first 10-week session were selected by assistant police chiefs and most are active in community organizations or crime-watch programs. The class had about half men and half women, with several African-Americans and Hispanics. There was even one student who couldn’t be a police officer in Texas-Bruce Monroe, past president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

The classes enlighten civilians on many law enforcement mysteries. For example, state law allows officers to shoot to protect property, but more stringent DPD rules say officers can shoot only “to protect themselves or another person from imminent death or serious bodily injury.” Dallas police cannot fire warning shots. And officers are required to explore all alternatives to shooting someone and are reviewed on that standard. “We expect cops not to make mistakes,” says Asst. Chief John Holt. “Because our mistakes cost lives.”

All the students’ responses, James says, have been “absolutely marvelous.” For more information, call 670-7448.