Jose Rivas - District 7 Police Oversight

Jose Rivas - District 7 Police Oversight Vice Chairman, Community Police Oversight Board (District 7)

The next Community Police Oversight Board meeting will be on October 10, 2023, at 5:30 P.M. at Dallas City Hall in the C...
10/06/2023

The next Community Police Oversight Board meeting will be on October 10, 2023, at 5:30 P.M. at Dallas City Hall in the Council Briefing Chambers.

https://www.fox4news.com/news/dallas-police-and-fire-pension-system-could-face-financial-trouble-againPublic Safety is a...
10/06/2023

https://www.fox4news.com/news/dallas-police-and-fire-pension-system-could-face-financial-trouble-again

Public Safety is a structural issue for the long-term success and growth of this city. Council members must make difficult and unpopular choices with the bond. Some non-critical projects will have to wait until the next go around.

There are “wants,” and there are “needs.” The needs must take priority.

FOX 4 obtained an email labeled ‘confidential’ where the leader of the city's bond task force informed the mayor and city council members that before the city seeks to use its entire bonding capacity for infrastructure needs, it may need to consider concerns about the police and fire pension.

https://x.com/DallasPD/status/1705855021294711063?s=20This occurred in the Casa View area of East Dallas. Very happy to ...
09/24/2023

https://x.com/DallasPD/status/1705855021294711063?s=20

This occurred in the Casa View area of East Dallas. Very happy to hear there were no injuries to officers or to the passenger of the vehicle in pursuit. The driver is deceased after exiting the vehicle and engaging officers with a firearm.

Dallas Police are investigating an officer involved shooting in the area of Barnes Bridge Road and El Capitan. PIO is on scene. Chief Garcia is responding.

09/05/2023
Dallas Police Department Officer-involved shooting (OIS). A suspect who shot at police was injured when officers returne...
08/10/2023

Dallas Police Department Officer-involved shooting (OIS). A suspect who shot at police was injured when officers returned fire. We are fortunate none of our officers were injured or killed.

Dallas PD | Officer Involved Shooting | August 2, 2023

08/09/2023

It is possible to support our men and women in Blue and demand that they treat residents of our city and veterans of our foreign wars with empathy and mutual respect.

If you wear the uniform of the Dallas Police Department, even during off-duty employment, you are an ambassador of the department, the city, and a reflection of its values.

The incident with Mr. Lane at Serious Pizza in Deep Ellum is troubling, and DPD should quickly address this conduct through the rank and file.

As a fellow OEF veteran and former non-commissioned
member of a state law enforcement agency, I am disappointed in the actions and conduct of our officers that night. We can do better, and the Community Police Oversight Board will ensure you do.

As I paraphrased in last night’s meeting: “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”- C.S. Lewis

08/07/2023
I 100% agree with Mayor Pro Tem Atkins. I'm thankful for donors who stepped up to make it right for the Jordan Family. T...
07/25/2023

I 100% agree with Mayor Pro Tem Atkins. I'm thankful for donors who stepped up to make it right for the Jordan Family. They undoubtedly deserved the $10K reward for helping make our communities safer. Congratulations, Jordan Family.

After a couple was unable to collect a reward for helping capture a most wanted fugitive over a technicality, Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins says changes need to be made to prevent the Crime Stoppers debacle that is putting a cloud over the organization. He pledged to get to the bottom of this....

Congratulations to Mr. Brian Bah for his appointment to the Community Police Oversight Board representing District 5. I ...
06/14/2023

Congratulations to Mr. Brian Bah for his appointment to the Community Police Oversight Board representing District 5. I look forward to working with you. Special thanks to Councilman Jaime Resendez for filling this critical seat.

Time to talk school safety. After all this tragedy in Texas, it’s time we get busy. Tragedy can strike anywhere, let’s w...
11/01/2022

Time to talk school safety. After all this tragedy in Texas, it’s time we get busy. Tragedy can strike anywhere, let’s work together to PREVENT it.

Day 1 of the National Summit on K-12 School Safety and Security roll-up.

“Attending the National Summit on K-12 School Safety and Security. Agenda: Day 1: Violence Prevention - Opening Remarks with Alejandro N. Mayorkas - Secretary, US Department of Homeland Security - Intervention Teams and Reporting - Mental Health, School Climate, and De-Escalation”

11/01/2022

Have a safe and Happy Halloween 🎃

Drivers please keep an extra eye out for the kiddos walking the streets of D7 tonight.

10/19/2022

Our inaugural National Summit on K-12 School Safety and Security will feature keynotes from Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas, CISA Director Jen Easterly, and Tony Montalto, president of Stand with Parkland and father of Gina Montalto, a victim of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy in 2018. Learn more: go.dhs.gov/Zpu

The Summit is a free, virtual event. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2022-national-summit-on-k-12-school-safety-and-security-tickets-405269852037

https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/harvard-cs50/
10/19/2022

https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/harvard-cs50/

Harvard University's CS50 is one of the most popular beginner computer science courses in the world. We just released the entire CS50 course–all 25 hours–on the freeCodeCamp.org YouTube channel. David J. Malan is widely considered to be one of the best computer science instructors. He teaches th...

Join your DPD NPOs on 26 October at this community event providing free annual influenza shots.
10/17/2022

Join your DPD NPOs on 26 October at this community event providing free annual influenza shots.

Anyone wishing to assist Officer Arellano’s family, may donate at the following link:  https://helpahero.com/campaign/ja...
10/14/2022

Anyone wishing to assist Officer Arellano’s family, may donate at the following link: https://helpahero.com/campaign/jacob-arellano-11729
NLLEO Greater Dallas Chapter
Dallas Police Department
Office of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson

Officer Jacob Arellano, #11729, passed away due to injuries he suffered in a crash. On October 11, 2022, at around 11:48pm, Officer Arellano, traveling to work for the start of his...

A sad update: Officer Arellano passed away as a result of his injuries. Please keep his family in your thoughts.
10/12/2022

A sad update: Officer Arellano passed away as a result of his injuries. Please keep his family in your thoughts.

09/30/2022
09/30/2022

We may never know the reason(s) why one of our neighbors chose to shoot at a DPD officer. While the loss of life is terrible, the officer showed incredible restraint and professionalism.

Her bravery in engaging this subject from a vulnerable position is commendable and should be required viewing at future training events.

👏💯
09/30/2022

👏💯

Three teenage brothers have gained recognition around Oak Cliff for playing traditional dance music beloved by new and older generations.

09/13/2022
09/08/2022

How can Dallas police replenish their ranks when fewer people want to be cops?

The Dallas Police Department faces a hiring crisis exacerbated by the pandemic, mental-health struggles, the social climate and strict standards.

When Nate Cairns applied to be a Dallas police officer, he encountered the same questions time and time again from family and friends: Are you sure? In today’s world, with strained community relations, the dangers of the job and strict standards, who would choose to be a cop?

The 25-year-old from North Carolina served in the U.S. Army and believed law enforcement was a natural transition. Although staying motivated during the academy was more difficult than he imagined, his commitment to serving the community as a police officer hasn’t wavered.

“Some days are pretty hard,” said Cairns, who graduated from the academy in July. “Some days you think you’re gonna breeze by and then at the end of the day you’re like, ‘Why am I even here? I should have been a firefighter.’”

His hesitation is representative of a larger problem for Dallas police and law-enforcement agencies nationwide. The profession faces a hiring crisis exacerbated by the nation’s labor shortages, steep competition, mental-health struggles and negative perceptions about officers.

Dallas police say America’s labor shortage is especially dire for them as response times increase, calls for service spike and police try to curtail high rates of violence in the city.

Senior Corporal Binh Vu, left, places a pin on the collar of newly graduated Police officer...
Senior Corporal Binh Vu, left, places a pin on the collar of newly graduated Police officer Chelsea Boykin after she received her Police badge during a graduation ceremony for the Dallas Police Department Class 381, at Moody Performance Hall in Dallas, on Friday, July 16, 2022.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
“We’re suffering,” said Assistant Chief Catrina Shead, who oversees recruiting and retention as commander of the Dallas police administrative bureau. “I heard people say it’s a perfect storm. It’s a multitude of things happening all at the same time.”

Dallas police have about 3,100 officers. That’s down from around 3,500-3,600 officers in 2014, before hundreds left during a pension crisis in 2016-17. This fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, the department set out with a goal to hire 250 new officers and expected to lose 205 others to attrition.

Through August, the department has lost 217 to attrition and 27% of the department — more than 800 active-duty officers — is eligible to retire. The proposed police budget for the next fiscal year includes more than $4 million in financial incentives to entice officers to stay past retirement, along with $4.8 million to hire an additional 250 new police officers.

Dallas police aren’t alone in those difficulties. A June 2021 national survey of 194 police agencies by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit of police executives mainly from large areas, showed a 45% increase in officer retirements and an 18% uptick in resignations from 2020 to 2021. The percentage decrease in staffing levels was most severe for agencies with 500 or more officers.

Dallas police are focused on new hires to replenish their ranks. This fiscal year, the department hired 172 people through August. But recruitment has grown more challenging, and it’s quality, not quantity, that matters, Shead said.

“You really have to have in your heart this is what you want to do,” she said.

Police officer Muhammad Rizvi is congratulated by friend Paul Rolon after officer Rizvi...
Police officer Muhammad Rizvi is congratulated by friend Paul Rolon after officer Rizvi received his Police badge during a graduation ceremony for the Dallas Police Department Class 381, at Moody Performance Hall in Dallas, on Friday, July 16, 2022.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
As one of Dallas’ most recent police recruits, Cairns dismissed his family’s concerns about the social environment. He said he liked the structured lifestyle and team-oriented nature of policing, and didn’t believe the negativity he sees about police online and in the news.

He wanted to be with high-caliber people, and to him, Dallas clicked like no other place.

“What better time to try to do that job than when it’s the hardest?” Cairns said. “If anything, that’s more of a motivator to me.”

New motivations

Shead said Dallas police recruits today are substantially different from past generations. Before, recruits often had their minds set on policing from a young age, she said, or joined only because they needed a job.

More recruits today make a conscious decision to be part of a change in law enforcement or society more generally, she said. She added recruits are usually more in tune with global happenings because of social media.

But applicant pools are smaller, which heightens the need for police to engage with possible recruits and encourage them to undergo the multi-step application. The process includes a background check, a civil service test, interviews, medical and physical tests and a psychological exam before the recruit becomes eligible to enroll in the nine-month police training academy.

Shead said police try to entice young people — usually in high school — to pursue a career in policing, then stay in touch with them until they’re old enough to join the force. That way, she said, police can encourage recruits to make smart decisions in college.

Assistant Chief of Police Angela Shaw points to Police officer Chelsea Boykin while staying...
Assistant Chief of Police Angela Shaw points to Police officer Chelsea Boykin while staying close to Boykin's daughter Rosaleey Boykin, 3, as her mother was photographed with Class 381 after a graduation ceremony for the Dallas Police Department, at Moody Performance Hall in Dallas, on Friday, July 16, 2022.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
She said the use of drugs like ma*****na often disqualifies new applicants, but recently, there’s been a more difficult disqualifier with no easy solution: mental-health issues.

As rates of su***de, anxiety and depression among young people spike in America, more recruits are failing the Dallas police psychological exam, Shead said. In a profession that is stressful by nature, mental-health issues may only get worse.

“We come to school and we’ll talk to you about different things, but how do I know a child is in the room that suffers from depression?” Shead said. “How do I know a student that’s in the room that doesn’t have such a good home life?

“They don’t know that they suffer from high levels of anxiety. They just feel like it’s just normal for them. How do you affect that?”

Additionally, she said, recruits sometimes express fear about negative perceptions about police — particularly with movements like defund the police or protests against police, which are often spurred after people of color are killed by police.

Related:Denton County DA says s*x abuse case against John Wetteland will go forward after mistrial
Jesuorobo Enobakhare Jr., chairman of Dallas’ community police oversight board, said the city shouldn’t defund the police, but it also shouldn’t arrest its way out of problems. He said there are certain jobs the police shouldn’t do, and city leaders need to turn to solutions beyond hiring more officers to address issues such as homelessness and mental-health problems.

He said the department needs to hire officers “armed with empathy, critical thinking skills and the experience and knowledge to navigate diverse communities” to serve the city well.

“We need a police department that’s community-led, that’s willing to truly serve and protect and not terrorize and oppress certain communities,” Enobakhare said.

Eric Aranda, 24, grew up in North Texas and graduated from the police academy with Cairns this summer. He majored in church leadership at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie because he wanted to serve people — a goal that later motivated him to join Dallas police.

Eric Aranda, a new police officer with the Dallas Police Department, poses by a patrol car...
Eric Aranda, a new police officer with the Dallas Police Department, poses by a patrol car after his overnight shift in southern Dallas on Friday, July 22, 2022.(Liesbeth Powers / Staff Photographer)
Aranda said he had friends who didn’t support the profession, some of whom he lost. As he went through the police academy, he kept his career choice as quiet as he could.

“My fear was, ‘Oh, I’m about to be a police officer so what are they gonna think of me now?’” he said. “There’s people that I knew — that I cared about — people that I hung out with and stuff that maybe now that I’m a police officer, they wouldn’t like me either.”

“There’s always people that just don’t like police,” he added. “The reality of it is the climate is hot right now for f--- the police.”

Attrition

Dallas police also hope to take advantage of turmoil in other police departments. Shead said recruiters travel across the country and have had success in places like Puerto Rico or New York, where police officers have clashed with the city over a COVID-19 vaccination mandate. There is no such mandate in Dallas, which the department has used as a selling point.

Shead said the profession has also fared better in recent months as other employers take away work-from-home possibilities. She said police weren’t able to work from home because of the nature of the job, which had hurt them with “the new working class.”

Police competition is steep locally because suburban agencies often offer higher pay and a calmer lifestyle with lower rates of crime.

From left, Police Officers Alyssa Hoppensteadt, Brennon Jones and Charles Jones, stand for...
From left, Police Officers Alyssa Hoppensteadt, Brennon Jones and Charles Jones, stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of a graduation ceremony for the Dallas Police Department Class 381, at Moody Performance Hall in Dallas, on Friday, July 16, 2022.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
Dallas police Chief Eddie García said the police associations and city have prevented officers from leaving for other agencies with pay boosts, promotions and new opportunities.

“We gotta show what makes Dallas special,” García said. “The issues our men and women face as part of the ninth-largest city in the country’s police force. The support from our community, the support from our mayor and city government, and the support of this administration.

“I think we’re different, and have a special organization that I believe can and will attract the right people to wear this patch.”

Shead said police also implement innovative strategies to reach young people. The department goes live on Facebook to answer questions from possible recruits, and has taken to TikTok, where it has about 235,000 followers.

Attrition remains a problem.

One veteran officer, SWAT Lt. Kevin Campbell, nearly left the department years ago. A Dallas police officer becomes eligible to retire after 20 years of service, and Campbell, a 32-year veteran, said he hit a point where his pension wouldn’t get any better. He said he was also frustrated with the department’s direction under the former command staff.

Related:Dallas man killed near broken police camera; his family demands better surveillance
He said the department also underwent difficult periods — first with the July 7, 2016, ambush that killed four Dallas police officers and a DART officer, and then with negative perceptions of police in 2020 after a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd. It’s easy to feel burnt out in the job, Campbell said.

“You gotta feel like your command staff supports you,” Campbell said. “My job is to take care of my people. That’s truly what I feel my job is. And if I don’t feel supported, it’s hard for me to pass that on to my guys and have them believe it, so that was one of my big problems.”

He planned to retire. But then came a new command staff under García, which he believed “gave a breath of fresh air to the officers.”

Now, he doesn’t have a set date for his retirement.

“Quite frankly, as long as I’m enjoying what I’m doing and I’m happy, I’ll stay,” Campbell said. “Everybody that I know that is already retired says that you just hit a day where you know it’s time. And I just haven’t hit that day yet.”

Smaller classes

To 24-year-old Madison Wright, the police hiring crisis is the profession’s greatest challenge. The topic was constantly discussed among recruits, said Wright, a North Carolina native who graduated from the academy with Cairns and Aranda. The three rookies still must undergo 24 weeks of field training and, unless it’s waived, an additional two months partnered with a senior officer before they’re allowed to patrol alone.

Their class, the Dallas police Class 381, has 22 men and four women who range in age from 21 to 40.

Shead said classes used to average between 50 to 75 people, but 30 is typical now. Police are still trying to recruit more women and people of color. She said there are usually many white and Hispanic men who apply.

Police officers including Erick Brown, front row, second from left, Alyssa Hoppensteadt,...
Police officers including Erick Brown, front row, second from left, Alyssa Hoppensteadt, center, and Michael Conn, third from right, pose for photos after a graduation ceremony for the Dallas Police Department Class 381, at Moody Performance Hall in Dallas, on Friday, July 16, 2022.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
She said police had challenges hiring Black people, which she attributed to social unrest that conveyed “this was not a profession to join.” In recent months, she said, the department has had more success.

“As time has gone on, people have learned a little bit more, have become a little bit more knowledgeable about it,” Shead said, “and so some of the stigma that was assigned to the profession has gone away.”

In Wright’s class, 12 are white, six are Black, six are Hispanic, one is Asian and one is Middle Eastern.

Shead said the department is still struggling to hire women.

Wright said she wavered for months before she submitted her Dallas police application. She has a knack for helping people and “the priority of justice” piqued her interest, but her family questioned whether policing was a fit.

Related:White Dallas officer on leave after making coin Black Police Association says is racist
“I didn’t want to disappoint anyone,” Wright said. “The climate is rough and I was deciding whether it was worth stepping into. And as a woman, what is my – where do I fit?”

Now, she said, she feels confident and able after getting through the academy — but she recognizes the difficulties ahead.

“Having more people here would improve a lot of things,” Wright said.

“It would really impact the way we are able to police and the way that we’re able to approach scenes, even, and approach the community as a whole as a stronger unit.”

08/31/2022
08/30/2022
08/26/2022

Reflections on a guilty plea in Breonna Taylor’s case.

08/09/2022
08/08/2022

Come over and touch the firetrucks on Saturday, August 13 when the Dallas Fire Department brings a Fire Engine and a Ladder Truck to the Aquarium Plaza. Free with admission from 10 am to 2 pm! Free Stingray food for first responder families.

08/04/2022

Our District office is now open at the MLK Center! A district 7 staff member will be available every Thursday and Friday from 8am-5pm.

Office Location: MLK Community Center Building A, 2922 MLK Blvd. Dallas, TX 75215

08/03/2022

Ahoy se estarán dando vacunas y microchips para sus mascotas. Vean el folleto para la locación y horas.

Officer involved shooting.
07/28/2022

Officer involved shooting.

At approximately 11:30pm, Dallas Police officers were involved in an officer involved shooting in the 13000 block of Jupiter Road.

Earlier that night officers observed a drug transaction in the parking lot of the gas station and attempted a traffic stop. The driver did not stop and officers and Air One attempted to follow, but lost sight of the vehicle.

A short time later, officers located the car back at the gas station, with the suspect driver inside the business.

When officers attempted to take the man into custody, a fight broke out and the suspect pulled a handgun from his waistband.

One officer fired from his department issued weapon, hitting the suspect.

The suspect was transported to a local hospital where he is in critical condition. The officers were not injured.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and Office of Police Oversight were notified and responded.

The investigation is ongoing.

Community Festival!August 6, 2022 (11am-3pm)Bruton Terrace Church @ 8851 Bruton RdFor more information contact: (469) 87...
07/28/2022

Community Festival!

August 6, 2022 (11am-3pm)
Bruton Terrace Church @ 8851 Bruton Rd

For more information contact: (469) 878-5333

Save the Date!
07/27/2022

Save the Date!

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How can Dallas police replenish their ranks when fewer people want to be cops?

The Dallas Police Department faces a hiring crisis exacerbated by the pandemic, mental-health struggles, the social climate and strict standards.

When Nate Cairns applied to be a Dallas police officer, he encountered the same questions time and time again from family and friends: Are you sure? In today’s world, with strained community relations, the dangers of the job and strict standards, who would choose to be a cop?

The 25-year-old from North Carolina served in the U.S. Army and believed law enforcement was a natural transition. Although staying motivated during the academy was more difficult than he imagined, his commitment to serving the community as a police officer hasn’t wavered.

“Some days are pretty hard,” said Cairns, who graduated from the academy in July. “Some days you think you’re gonna breeze by and then at the end of the day you’re like, ‘Why am I even here? I should have been a firefighter.’”

His hesitation is representative of a larger problem for Dallas police and law-enforcement agencies nationwide. The profession faces a hiring crisis exacerbated by the nation’s labor shortages, steep competition, mental-health struggles and negative perceptions about officers.

Dallas police say America’s labor shortage is especially dire for them as response times increase, calls for service spike and police try to curtail high rates of violence in the city.

Senior Corporal Binh Vu, left, places a pin on the collar of newly graduated Police officer...
Senior Corporal Binh Vu, left, places a pin on the collar of newly graduated Police officer Chelsea Boykin after she received her Police badge during a graduation ceremony for the Dallas Police Department Class 381, at Moody Performance Hall in Dallas, on Friday, July 16, 2022.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
“We’re suffering,” said Assistant Chief Catrina Shead, who oversees recruiting and retention as commander of the Dallas police administrative bureau. “I heard people say it’s a perfect storm. It’s a multitude of things happening all at the same time.”

Dallas police have about 3,100 officers. That’s down from around 3,500-3,600 officers in 2014, before hundreds left during a pension crisis in 2016-17. This fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, the department set out with a goal to hire 250 new officers and expected to lose 205 others to attrition.

Through August, the department has lost 217 to attrition and 27% of the department — more than 800 active-duty officers — is eligible to retire. The proposed police budget for the next fiscal year includes more than $4 million in financial incentives to entice officers to stay past retirement, along with $4.8 million to hire an additional 250 new police officers.

Dallas police aren’t alone in those difficulties. A June 2021 national survey of 194 police agencies by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit of police executives mainly from large areas, showed a 45% increase in officer retirements and an 18% uptick in resignations from 2020 to 2021. The percentage decrease in staffing levels was most severe for agencies with 500 or more officers.

Dallas police are focused on new hires to replenish their ranks. This fiscal year, the department hired 172 people through August. But recruitment has grown more challenging, and it’s quality, not quantity, that matters, Shead said.

“You really have to have in your heart this is what you want to do,” she said.

Police officer Muhammad Rizvi is congratulated by friend Paul Rolon after officer Rizvi...
Police officer Muhammad Rizvi is congratulated by friend Paul Rolon after officer Rizvi received his Police badge during a graduation ceremony for the Dallas Police Department Class 381, at Moody Performance Hall in Dallas, on Friday, July 16, 2022.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
As one of Dallas’ most recent police recruits, Cairns dismissed his family’s concerns about the social environment. He said he liked the structured lifestyle and team-oriented nature of policing, and didn’t believe the negativity he sees about police online and in the news.

He wanted to be with high-caliber people, and to him, Dallas clicked like no other place.

“What better time to try to do that job than when it’s the hardest?” Cairns said. “If anything, that’s more of a motivator to me.”

New motivations

Shead said Dallas police recruits today are substantially different from past generations. Before, recruits often had their minds set on policing from a young age, she said, or joined only because they needed a job.

More recruits today make a conscious decision to be part of a change in law enforcement or society more generally, she said. She added recruits are usually more in tune with global happenings because of social media.

But applicant pools are smaller, which heightens the need for police to engage with possible recruits and encourage them to undergo the multi-step application. The process includes a background check, a civil service test, interviews, medical and physical tests and a psychological exam before the recruit becomes eligible to enroll in the nine-month police training academy.

Shead said police try to entice young people — usually in high school — to pursue a career in policing, then stay in touch with them until they’re old enough to join the force. That way, she said, police can encourage recruits to make smart decisions in college.

Assistant Chief of Police Angela Shaw points to Police officer Chelsea Boykin while staying...
Assistant Chief of Police Angela Shaw points to Police officer Chelsea Boykin while staying close to Boykin's daughter Rosaleey Boykin, 3, as her mother was photographed with Class 381 after a graduation ceremony for the Dallas Police Department, at Moody Performance Hall in Dallas, on Friday, July 16, 2022.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
She said the use of drugs like ma*****na often disqualifies new applicants, but recently, there’s been a more difficult disqualifier with no easy solution: mental-health issues.

As rates of su***de, anxiety and depression among young people spike in America, more recruits are failing the Dallas police psychological exam, Shead said. In a profession that is stressful by nature, mental-health issues may only get worse.

“We come to school and we’ll talk to you about different things, but how do I know a child is in the room that suffers from depression?” Shead said. “How do I know a student that’s in the room that doesn’t have such a good home life?

“They don’t know that they suffer from high levels of anxiety. They just feel like it’s just normal for them. How do you affect that?”

Additionally, she said, recruits sometimes express fear about negative perceptions about police — particularly with movements like defund the police or protests against police, which are often spurred after people of color are killed by police.

Related:Denton County DA says s*x abuse case against John Wetteland will go forward after mistrial
Jesuorobo Enobakhare Jr., chairman of Dallas’ community police oversight board, said the city shouldn’t defund the police, but it also shouldn’t arrest its way out of problems. He said there are certain jobs the police shouldn’t do, and city leaders need to turn to solutions beyond hiring more officers to address issues such as homelessness and mental-health problems.

He said the department needs to hire officers “armed with empathy, critical thinking skills and the experience and knowledge to navigate diverse communities” to serve the city well.

“We need a police department that’s community-led, that’s willing to truly serve and protect and not terrorize and oppress certain communities,” Enobakhare said.

Eric Aranda, 24, grew up in North Texas and graduated from the police academy with Cairns this summer. He majored in church leadership at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie because he wanted to serve people — a goal that later motivated him to join Dallas police.

Eric Aranda, a new police officer with the Dallas Police Department, poses by a patrol car...
Eric Aranda, a new police officer with the Dallas Police Department, poses by a patrol car after his overnight shift in southern Dallas on Friday, July 22, 2022.(Liesbeth Powers / Staff Photographer)
Aranda said he had friends who didn’t support the profession, some of whom he lost. As he went through the police academy, he kept his career choice as quiet as he could.

“My fear was, ‘Oh, I’m about to be a police officer so what are they gonna think of me now?’” he said. “There’s people that I knew — that I cared about — people that I hung out with and stuff that maybe now that I’m a police officer, they wouldn’t like me either.”

“There’s always people that just don’t like police,” he added. “The reality of it is the climate is hot right now for f--- the police.”

Attrition

Dallas police also hope to take advantage of turmoil in other police departments. Shead said recruiters travel across the country and have had success in places like Puerto Rico or New York, where police officers have clashed with the city over a COVID-19 vaccination mandate. There is no such mandate in Dallas, which the department has used as a selling point.

Shead said the profession has also fared better in recent months as other employers take away work-from-home possibilities. She said police weren’t able to work from home because of the nature of the job, which had hurt them with “the new working class.”

Police competition is steep locally because suburban agencies often offer higher pay and a calmer lifestyle with lower rates of crime.

From left, Police Officers Alyssa Hoppensteadt, Brennon Jones and Charles Jones, stand for...
From left, Police Officers Alyssa Hoppensteadt, Brennon Jones and Charles Jones, stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of a graduation ceremony for the Dallas Police Department Class 381, at Moody Performance Hall in Dallas, on Friday, July 16, 2022.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
Dallas police Chief Eddie García said the police associations and city have prevented officers from leaving for other agencies with pay boosts, promotions and new opportunities.

“We gotta show what makes Dallas special,” García said. “The issues our men and women face as part of the ninth-largest city in the country’s police force. The support from our community, the support from our mayor and city government, and the support of this administration.

“I think we’re different, and have a special organization that I believe can and will attract the right people to wear this patch.”

Shead said police also implement innovative strategies to reach young people. The department goes live on Facebook to answer questions from possible recruits, and has taken to TikTok, where it has about 235,000 followers.

Attrition remains a problem.

One veteran officer, SWAT Lt. Kevin Campbell, nearly left the department years ago. A Dallas police officer becomes eligible to retire after 20 years of service, and Campbell, a 32-year veteran, said he hit a point where his pension wouldn’t get any better. He said he was also frustrated with the department’s direction under the former command staff.

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He said the department also underwent difficult periods — first with the July 7, 2016, ambush that killed four Dallas police officers and a DART officer, and then with negative perceptions of police in 2020 after a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd. It’s easy to feel burnt out in the job, Campbell said.

“You gotta feel like your command staff supports you,” Campbell said. “My job is to take care of my people. That’s truly what I feel my job is. And if I don’t feel supported, it’s hard for me to pass that on to my guys and have them believe it, so that was one of my big problems.”

He planned to retire. But then came a new command staff under García, which he believed “gave a breath of fresh air to the officers.”

Now, he doesn’t have a set date for his retirement.

“Quite frankly, as long as I’m enjoying what I’m doing and I’m happy, I’ll stay,” Campbell said. “Everybody that I know that is already retired says that you just hit a day where you know it’s time. And I just haven’t hit that day yet.”

Smaller classes

To 24-year-old Madison Wright, the police hiring crisis is the profession’s greatest challenge. The topic was constantly discussed among recruits, said Wright, a North Carolina native who graduated from the academy with Cairns and Aranda. The three rookies still must undergo 24 weeks of field training and, unless it’s waived, an additional two months partnered with a senior officer before they’re allowed to patrol alone.

Their class, the Dallas police Class 381, has 22 men and four women who range in age from 21 to 40.

Shead said classes used to average between 50 to 75 people, but 30 is typical now. Police are still trying to recruit more women and people of color. She said there are usually many white and Hispanic men who apply.

Police officers including Erick Brown, front row, second from left, Alyssa Hoppensteadt,...
Police officers including Erick Brown, front row, second from left, Alyssa Hoppensteadt, center, and Michael Conn, third from right, pose for photos after a graduation ceremony for the Dallas Police Department Class 381, at Moody Performance Hall in Dallas, on Friday, July 16, 2022.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
She said police had challenges hiring Black people, which she attributed to social unrest that conveyed “this was not a profession to join.” In recent months, she said, the department has had more success.

“As time has gone on, people have learned a little bit more, have become a little bit more knowledgeable about it,” Shead said, “and so some of the stigma that was assigned to the profession has gone away.”

In Wright’s class, 12 are white, six are Black, six are Hispanic, one is Asian and one is Middle Eastern.

Shead said the department is still struggling to hire women.

Wright said she wavered for months before she submitted her Dallas police application. She has a knack for helping people and “the priority of justice” piqued her interest, but her family questioned whether policing was a fit.

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“I didn’t want to disappoint anyone,” Wright said. “The climate is rough and I was deciding whether it was worth stepping into. And as a woman, what is my – where do I fit?”

Now, she said, she feels confident and able after getting through the academy — but she recognizes the difficulties ahead.

“Having more people here would improve a lot of things,” Wright said.

“It would really impact the way we are able to police and the way that we’re able to approach scenes, even, and approach the community as a whole as a stronger unit.”