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Dallas Police Plan Changes To Use Of Force Policy

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Change is coming within the Dallas Police Department.  DPD Police Chief David O. Brown is prepared to roll out significant changes as early as April of this year.  Brown says he wants to get back to the philosophy of only using force when absolutely necessary and as a last resort.  Some who wear the uniform say that may be easier said than done.

Chief Brown and his staff laid out their plan to city leaders on Monday to improve DPD's use of force training program.  Brown is proposing a significant increase in the amount of hours spent in training on when to use deadly force.

"So we're going from once every two-year training in these areas to bi-monthly and quarterly training," explained Brown.  "It's a dramatic increase in training in our department."

"We would like more training," responded Ron Pinkston, President of the Dallas Police Association.  "But that's fallen on deaf ears in the past because of budget constraints."

Pinskton says the real heart of the matter is a more clearly defined policy.  He says officers have been punished for decisions made in the field in some cases that were unwarranted.

"Officers don't know when they can use deadly force.  So how can they rush to crime scene, if they don't know if they can use deadly force if the have to?"

Richard Todd President of the Fraternal Order of Police echoes Pinkston's concern.

"If officers are worried they are going to get fired or indicted..." questioned Todd.

Another big change is who will conduct the specialized training.  Senior Corporals currently run the reality base training, but Chief Brown plans to bring in seven sergeants and have them undergo the same certification process.  Brown says the sergeants will add more management insight and provide fresh perspective.  Some police unions see it differently.

"Now we're going to remove them...and use a management philosophy.  "Well, management doesn't go out on the street and protect the citizens, the ground officer does that."

Also, DPD now has the use of force tracking system and is field testing new cameras that officers would wear on their uniforms.  The department is also voluntarily alerting the FBI of all officer involved shootings.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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