DALLAS - New security measures at the Dallas Police Headquarters could be seen as excessive, intimidating and unconstitutional to some.
To get inside, visitors and even victims now need to show ID. Police say they made the change to boost security.
DPD Headquarters is the central location for the Dallas Police command staff, administrators and investigators. But it is also a building that houses public records. Some lawyers believe requiring citizens to identify themselves before gaining access to those records will find the city and the department facing a lawsuit.
DPD now requires nearly everyone entering the headquarters to present a driver’s license or another form of ID just to get into the lobby. From pictures of the process, it appears some of that ID information is written down.
Dallas Appellate Lawyer Chad Ruback says requiring identification, in a case like this, to enter a public building where public records are kept violates due process and constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
“Absolutely, it's a constitutional issue. My guess is the police officer who made this decision forgot to check with the city attorney’s office first,” he said. “Why is it that police officers need to see someone's ID to go in the building to check public records? That's not needed to go in the federal courthouse and not needed to go into the state house. But somehow a building full of armed police officers has security interests that require everybody's ID to be checked? I don't buy it."
In a statement, the Dallas Police Department says the commander over building security approved the change for “security reasons” saying that “it’s a new requirement. Visitors who are not signing in and being escorted to secure areas of the building with police personnel are required to show a license or identification.”
Security is a very real concern.
In June 2015, James Boulware planted explosives around DPD HQ and then opened fire on the building and responding officers from an armored van. No one was injured. Boulware was later shot and killed by a police sniper.
Dallas police have since fortified the main entrance and lobby and search everyone for weapons going in the building.
But Ruback says the ID requirement simply goes too far.
"If a lawyer were to file suit, I think a federal judge would shut this down in no time,” he said.
Calls to the Dallas City Attorney's Office for comment have not been returned.