Public meetings are being held to evaluate the role of the Citizen’s Police Review Board in Dallas and whether it should have more power.
The board wants to be able to call police as witnesses when cases are being investigated. But it’s a subpoena power that not all believe should be granted to citizens.
The board is where Dallas residents can turn to if they are unhappy with the outcome of a police investigation. But right now it can only make recommendations and its constraints became visible during a case heard Tuesday.
The parents of a two-year-old bitten by a dog during a pet adoption event at Klyde Warren Park in Dec. 2017 filed a complaint because they believe responding officers mistreated the mother and didn’t investigate the incident properly.
An internal investigation found no wrongdoing, so Dr. Alan Romero and Allis Cho requested a hearing in front of the review board.
A lieutenant with Dallas police agreed some of the officers' comments were unwarranted but said that was the extent of an issue.
“According to departmental policy and procedures the officers did everything in their powers to investigate this incident,” said Lt. Mike Igo, DPD Internal Affairs.
The board sided with Dr. Romero, but the decision holds very little weight. For now, it strictly serves as an "advisory board." the chair is trying to change that.
One proposal is for the city council to give the board additional subpoena powers.
“Our goal or intent is not to subpoena officers to come here it’s to get information in a private closed setting,” said chairman Brian Williams.
The board would also like to work alongside investigators as the case is being reviewed instead of after a decision has been made.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata calls those requests "a slippery slope."
“We don't want a negative reaction between the public and the officer and that's what this can do if we don't do it the right way,” Mata said.
Tempers flared Tuesday afternoon as community members and members of the citizen police review board discussed the board's future in the first of series of town hall meetings. People are divided on whether citizen police oversight is helpful.
At the town halls, the board is discussing whether the city should allocate a budget and staff to better prepare board members. It's also looking at adding the ability to subpoena officer and the ability to have independent investigators work alongside police internal affairs during an investigation.
Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall was at the Tuesday meeting. In the past, she has said she supports board restructuring including giving it the power to subpoena officers.