Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall proposed several policy changes within the department on Monday in the wake of the firing of an off-duty officer who fatally shot a man in his own apartment.
Action items include reducing the time officers have to make official statements, instituting a citizens’ review board and updating the public on a more consistent basis. Hall told the council’s Public Safety Committee she’d like to have all the changes made within six months.
Hall made her statements just minutes after the department announced the firing of Amber Guyger, who shot and killed Botham Jean in his own apartment on Sept. 6. Guyger, who was off-duty, claims she mistakenly entered the apartment believing it was her own.
The biggest change would remove the 72-hour wait policy for officers to give statements to internal affairs about a police incident.
Hall's predecessor, David Brown, instituted the policy in 2013 after a mentally ill man was shot by an officer who claimed, inaccurately, that he had been threatened. The idea, Brown said, was to give officers time to give the most accurate account possible away from the heat of the moment.
The new policy would require officers to be interviewed immediately.
“At the end of the day we must do what's best for the police department and the community collectively,” Hall said.
Hall supports what Botham Jean protesters have been calling for -- a citizens’ review board with subpoena powers for officers.
“I am a huge proponent of that for the city of Dallas. This community and police officers are of the upmost importance to me and we have to work collectively to build this trust in the community,” Hall said.
Other proposed changes include officers submitting to mandatory drug and alcohol testing after an on-the-job incident. Hall also said there needs to be a standard policy of updating the public on critical police incidents, like the Botham Jean shooting, every five days.
Committee members who spoke support chief's changes.
“The 72 hours was something that was a big concern of mine for a while and I'm glad to see you making this change as well as the police review board,” said councilman Omar Navaez.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata was at the meeting. He declined to talk on camera, but said he strongly disagrees with doing away with the 72-hour waiting period. He believes investigators will "railroad officers" involved in a high-stress situation.