On March 28, Dallas City Council members suspended the usual Wednesday meeting for a few hours to attend the funeral of officer Mark Nix, killed in the line of duty just five days earlier. But council members skipped the burial so that they could resume session that afternoon. And as nearly every off-duty police officer in Dallas laid Nix to rest, the Council voted to take away officers’ options for appealing termination or disciplinary action. Used to be, officers who were fired or demoted could appeal their case to an administrative law judge or to an assistant city manager. But now cops could only appeal to City Manager Mary Suhm.
Dallas City Councilman Steve Salazar, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, wasn’t pleased. “The mayor and council members were upset that several terminations had been overturned,” he says. “What they were saying is, ‘You assistant managers haven’t been ruling the way we want, so we’re changing it.’ That’s not justice.”
Many cops argue that the measure was passed during a time the Council knew no officers would show to contest it. They contend that Suhm, unlike her assistant managers, won’t have the time to investigate each appeal. Chief David Kunkle says the Council wanted someone with a higher profile to handle appeals. Kunkle himself has no opinion on the new appeals process.
Salazar plans to take up the matter with the new mayor and the Council. He hopes he is able to reverse the March appeal.