Dallas County Taskforce releases report to advance social justice, policing reforms

Social Justice Policing Reforms
County Judge Clay Jenkins met with the Working Group during it New Directions for Public Safety and Positive Community Change meeting to discuss social justice, policing reforms. – Photo courtesy of Dallas County

 

Special to The Dallas Examiner

 

As thousands took to Dallas streets protesting the unarmed killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins met with local clergy, activists and city officials to discuss what collective efforts could be forged to stop the killing of unarmed Black people and promote more just interactions between police and communities of color.

Meeting participants developed 10 directives aimed to tackle the problem directly and asked Jenkins to form a working group of community and city leaders to see how local tax dollars could work toward the group’s goal.

“Our initial Zoom call wasn’t just about feeling heard, it was about developing an opportunity for real systemic change,” said Jenkins, who organized the countywide task force to determine how best to meet the group’s overall goals.

The Working Group on New Directions for Public Safety and Positive Community Change met for six weeks listening to best practices across the nation and prepared a report to fold those policies into local governments. It heard testimony from 13 individuals that included expert witnesses and residents directly impacted by incarceration, poverty and mental health crises.

“The Working Group came together and positioned Dallas County leadership to discern the zeitgeist and open the door to a new era of public safety,” said Rev. Frederick Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist Church. “The zeitgeist has exposed a pandemic of injustice that contradicts who we claim to be as Americans. The policing system is rooted in an ugly history of policing some while protecting others. Our convening challenged us to summon the moral courage to reimagine what public safety should look like.”

Other members concurred it is past time to move toward real change.

“We are in a moment of crisis, and it requires us to transform the ways we operate,” said Sara Mokuria of Mothers Against Police Brutality. “This is not the moment for incremental steps and small tweaks to the system.”

The document, 10 New Directions for Public Safety and Positive Community Change, included a range of recommendations with two main purposes: a) to change police use of force, particularly deadly force, and b) to change budget priorities away from policing in order to increase investment for unmet human needs in housing, health care, mental health services, employment, recreation, the arts and other aspects of community wellbeing.

“I want to thank County Administrator Darryl Martin, committee members, and county and city staff for their courage and willingness to hear one another and work together. I hope the New Directions report released today will serve as a catalyst for innovative policy changes,” Judge Jenkins added. “Faced with the twin crises in policing and in unmet community needs, we must act.”

 

Working Group on New Directions for Public Safety and Positive Community Change

Community Members:

Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes III, Friendship West Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Michael Waters, Abundant Life AME Church

Imam Dr. Omar Suleiman, Faith Forward Dallas

Sara Mokuria, Mothers Against Police Brutality

Kristian Hernandez, Our City Our Future

Jodi Voice Yellowfish, American Indian Heritage Day

María Yolisma García, North Texas Dream Team

Brittany White, Faith in Action

Mercedes Fulbright, In Defense of Black Lives

John Fullinwider, Mothers Against Police Brutality

 

Government Members:

Susan Cluse, City Manager, Balch Springs

T.C. Broadnax, City Manager, Dallas

Brandon Wright, City Manager, DeSoto

Chris Hillman, City Manager, Irving

Opal Mauldin-Jones, City Manager, Lancaster

Cliff Keheley, City Manager, Mesquite

John Creuzot, Dallas County

Darryl Martin, Administrator, Dallas County

 

Support Staff:

Gordon Hikel, Assistant Administrator, Dallas County

Angelina Smith, Dallas County

Jheison Romain, Dallas County

Shay Cathey, Dallas County

 

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