Dallas Police Halt Routine Dash Cam Video Reviews

April 24, 2012

A special police unit’s routine review of patrol car video has been halted after some officers complained of being targeted for minor infractions such as speeding.

Chief David Brown started the reviews nearly a year ago to make sure routine dash cam-recorded incidents, not just high profile cases, were being monitored.

“Discipline wasn’t the intent of the reviews,” Brown said. “We were trying to proactively change behavior, specifically the driving behavior of our officers, which would in turn save lives by making officers more conscious of how they were driving.”

Brown suspended the reviews while the department considers what can be done to ensure that the process is fair and reasonable, The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday.

About 150 incidents were reviewed, with some officers commended. One officer was praised for confronting a suspect in a safe manner until other officers arrived and then treating his prisoner with dignity.

The majority of incidents referred to police supervisors involved excessive speed and other driving policy violations, according to documents obtained by the newspaper. Supervisors used their discretion to counsel officers or issue minor write-ups that went into officers’ files.

Suspected criminal acts were referred to the public integrity unit.

Police policy says officers can drive as fast as necessary and don’t have to come to a complete stop at intersections in “assist officer” situations as long as they have “appropriate regard for the safety of all persons or the consequences of reckless disregard for the safety of others.”

George Aranda, president of the Latino Peace Officers Association, said members complained that they were disciplined for driving over the speed limit while responding to calls for help from officers who were in imminent danger.

“It was sending a bad message to your typical patrol officer,” Aranda said. “Everybody was so afraid of going over the speed limit.”

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