Years ago — before it became a widely-employed practice — the Dallas Police Department was one of the first to train its officers in de-escalation — the process of bringing highly-charged confrontations to peaceful ends with no shots fired by any party. Dallas has one of the best records among major American cities on police shootings. Which made Dallas, ironically, the unlikeliest city in America to be protesting police shootings in other cities. It’s one of the reasons the rally was so peaceful, and so well-received by others in the downtown area. Dallas is held up as an example of a police force “getting it right” on officer training and the culture of respect. But expecting any kind of intelligence or cultural knowledge among assassins is pointless. These men with assault rifles are driven by hate, not truth. Certainly not reason.
DPS leadership specifically chose to send out a large number of officers to ensure safety at the rally. They chose summer shorts uniforms rather than the standard riot-gear because they wanted to present a friendly face to protect this rally — a risky move to send a message of solidarity and openness. How many of those injured — of those killed — would have been better off in the bulletproof gear left behind in their lockers?
This is not to say America does not have a crippling and serious problem with overreaction by some police who are clearly racially profiling citizens. The actions of these cops is deeply disturbing to Americans of all races, and we must not stop in our demands for change. My point is that Dallas stands head and shoulders above other metropolitan cities in teaching officers how to avoid profiling and overreaction. Today is a sad day for Dallas. A sad day for America. A sad day for law enforcement.
I hope the majority of Americans are ready to make semi-automatic long guns and other weapons of war illegal again. That law never should have been allowed to expire.
Terry Thompson is co-owner of Dallas Voice.