July 8, 2016

RADLEY BALKO: What the Dallas PD Does Right, and Why Doing Those Things Could Now Be More Difficult.

As I pointed out in today’s morning links, one particularly unfortunate aspect of the murder of five Dallas police officers Thursday night is that the city’s police department is a national model for community policing. Chief David Brown, who took office in 2010, has implemented a host of policies to improve the department’s relationship with the people it serves, often sticking out his own neck and reputation in the process. At risk of stating the obvious, no sane person would argue that these murders would have been okay if they had occurred in a city with a less community-oriented police department. Nor am I suggesting that the killer or killers represent any legitimate faction of the police reform or racial justice movements. But because Dallas is grieving right now, and the rest of us with it, it’s worth pointing out that in its police department, the city has much for which to be proud.

Note this in particular:

Since the Ferguson protests in 2014, there has been a lot of reporting about the devastating effects on the poor that come from the aggressive enforcement of traffic infractions and other petty crimes. Brown was ahead of the curve here, too. Between fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2013, the number of traffic tickets issued in Dallas dropped from 495,000 to under 212,000. That’s a massive cut. Brown reassigned traffic patrols to beats he felt were more conducive to public safety. In the past few years, we’ve seen appalling examples of cities stepping up enforcement of petty laws — often at the expense of policing for violent and property crimes — to help make up for budget shortfalls. Brown rejected that approach. “The purpose of traffic enforcement is to improve traffic safety, not to raise revenue,” Brown told the Morning News. “We don’t believe the citizens of Dallas want its police department writing citations to raise revenues.” The drop in citations did not cause a noticeable change in accidents or roadway fatalities.

Well, that’s because traffic tickets are mostly about revenue, not safety. I’ve been quite impressed with what I’ve seen of Chief Brown.

I note, though, that the evidence that copycats are now ambushing cops will make interactions between police and citizens even more fraught, increasing the danger of incidents. Which, if you tended toward paranoia, could almost be the plan.

InstaPundit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.