Dallas police chief disciplines 22 former vice squad members

The Dallas police chief announced the punishment for nearly two dozen former vice squad members who were investigated for policy violations.

It has the president of the Dallas Police Association fired up because he claims they operated the unit the same way it had been run for years. He says the system set up by leadership was the problem that resulted in 22 officers facing punishment ranging from getting written up to being suspended without pay.

None of them were criminally charged, but they were found to have mishandled funds and evidence.

The department did not make anyone available to answer questions on Wednesday and did not answer questions FOX 4 emailed them.

The police chief says that the discipline was needed to happen to maintain integrity within the department. Her critics say she’s blaming good detectives for a problem with department culture.

Twenty-two Dallas police officers have been disciplined, receiving punishments ranging from a written reprimand to suspensions without pay, after a three-year investigation into the vice unit.

Documents released by the department state that officers violated procedure by not placing illegal gambling money they seized into the property room and not documenting those funds properly for record keeping.

Chief Renee Hall did not take questions Wednesday, but she said in a statement that the discipline is about “ethics and integrity.”

“I trust Police Chief Hall and disciplinary actions that she does refer police officers,” said Dallas Police Oversight Chairman Jesusrobo Enobakhare.

But Dallas Police Association Mike Mata represents the officers and echoes what the detectives told internal affairs that “many of the practices in the vice unit had been committed by detectives for more than 20 years or were allowed to continue by their supervisors” and added that the detectives were never found to have done anything criminal with the money, only “[using money] obtained during an investigation to further vice investigations.” The investigations are sometimes undercover, involving gambling, human trafficking and prostitution.

“When you have 16 detectives all doing the same thing wrong, that’s a systemic problem. That’s an institutional problem. They were all trained to do it the same way,” Mata said. “That’s not one or two people going out on their own. They were all trained to do it the same way. There’s no great conspiracy theory here.”

Chief Hall disbanded the vice unit when this investigation began back in 2017, after her first few months on the job.

The officers were not criminally charged, but were reassigned. The vice unit was brought back together a year later with different officers after the internal investigation was complete.

The decision on how to discipline the officers was made last year, but it was only handed down to the detectives Wednesday.

“And remember, what have they been doing for the last two and a half years? They have still been detectives in high profile units. Family violence, robberies, sexual assaults,” Mata said. “So if they’re such horrible detectives, why are they still filing cases?”

“They didn’t break the law, but they did break policy,” Enobakhare said. “And that is her responsibility.”

The mayor is not commenting on this. It is likely to become a personnel matter, as these officers can appeal their discipline.