Police associations upset over Dallas County DA's criminal justice reform plan

Some police officers and their associations across the state and North Texas are upset with Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot’s criminal justice reform policies.

The local agencies are not calling for his removal, but they are asking him to meet with police agency leaders so rank and file officers are not getting mixed signals.

The new reform policy means Creuzot’s office will not prosecute theft of necessary items under $750, the most controversial of the measures for some of the officers.

Creuzot said necessary items are things like diapers, baby formula and food. He also said he would not prosecute first-time marijuana offenders or criminal trespassing when it involves the mentally ill.

"We see the future and the future unfortunately is lawlessness,” said Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata.

Creuzot says his policy addresses poverty concerns such as hunger. But he went further to clarify his point after some organizations began voicing concerns, with a statement emphasizing "...individuals who shoplift for economic gain will be prosecuted."

The DPA and representatives from six other police agencies in Dallas County say the DA is putting officers in a difficult position.

"Instead of enforcing the laws on the books, the District Attorney is single handily creating his own version of social engineering. Creuzot decided he is above the law and as such will pick and choose what crimes will face no consequences,” said Travis Hammond, Vice President, Texas Police Municipal Association.

Creuzot cited the recent case of a "...woman who was charged with $105 theft who was jailed for nearly two months at a cost to taxpayers of $3,300. We should not burden taxpayers in this way."

Mata claims the reason that woman was jailed so long was not because of her crime, but rather, her high bond. Facing a federal lawsuit, bond reform is another issue Creuzot is vowing to reform. 

Mata said officers will continue to do operate as usual.

"Theft of a person or a theft of business and we as police officers will enforce that law. If the DA chooses to release those folks that is on him and his house. We will do our job,” Mata said.

Creuzot said the theft policy, as well as the other new reform measures, will be monitored and have data collected. If adjustments are needed, he says those decisions will be based on the evidence and data collected.