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Memo Saying Dallas Police ‘Will No Longer Be Dispatched’ to Certain Calls Rescinded, Councilwoman Says

Dallas police officers “will no longer be dispatched” to certain calls, including interference with child custody, criminal mischief, harassment by electronic device, and a list of other crimes, according to a City of Dallas memo that Councilwoman Jennifer Gates — the chair of the city council’s public safety committee — characterized as a “communication failure” that has since been withdrawn.

The document does not show an author, but the city’s logo appears at the top of the page.

“This memo has been rescinded and should never have been sent. I have spoken to Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune and the call diversion initiative will be discussed at the next Public Safety Committee on [January 11]” Gates said in a tweet.

Interim Police Chief Lonzo Anderson indicated in a communication to the public that “the memorandum was sent prematurely,” but did not state who distributed it.

“The Dallas Police Department has learned that an internal memorandum was forwarded to staff members at the 911 Call Center regarding KPMG’s recommendations to divert certain Priority 4 calls to the Dallas Online Reporting System (DORS) or an Expediter,” Anderson said.

Anderson said that the reforms detailed in the document “have been rescinded at this time.”

The memo stated that, with limited exceptions, police officers would not respond to calls reporting attempted unauthorized use of a vehicle, burglary of a motor vehicle and auto accessories, credit or debit card abuse, criminal mischief, graffiti, harassment via electronic communication device, identity theft, lost property, reckless damage, runaways, interference with child custody, or some calls relating to persons who may be missing.

“Citizens will first be directed to utilize [Dallas Online Reporting System] (DORS) and then offered PSE (Expediters). There are some exceptions that will require officers to be dispatched,” the memo stated.

“Those exceptions are as follows: at any time, a call taker hears an ongoing disturbance or distress; no internet access availability; visually or hearing impaired or intellectual disability; DORS is down and report cannot be made through expediter unit; expediter unit is closed, and report cannot be made through [DORS].”

Policies of this nature seek to reduce the number of interactions between law enforcement and the public to avoid unnecessary confrontations and escalation, though there is concern about creating a system in which officers are not dispatched to calls where assistance is necessary.

On Monday, Gates told The Texan that these reforms were “internally discussed” among city executives and that Fortune had indicated to her on Saturday afternoon that the memo was “prematurely released.” Gates also said she “shared her disappointment” with Fortune over the incident.

The councilwoman highlighted that these were ultimately matters to be decided by the Dallas Police Department in conjunction with the city manager’s office.

“To be clear, these changes, if they were made, don’t require council action,” Gates added.

Gates also contended that while there is merit to the concept of encouraging residents to report some crimes through DORS rather than waiting for a police officer to take a report, such reforms should not be implemented during a transitional period. She also emphasized that residents should absolutely call 911 to report crime.

“We want all criminal activity reported,” Gates said.

The unknown author dated the memo on New Year’s Day, less than two weeks after Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax announced that Eddie Garcia will take the reins as police chief on February 3.

Broadnax had previously expressed hope that the new police chief would continue to “reimagine” policing. Anderson is currently leading the department after former Chief Renee Hall’s exit.

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