Dallas Has Been Called A Leader In Police Training, Transparency

Dallas police officers stand guard at a road block to the crime scene at El Centro College where a sniper unleashed a barrage of bullets, killing 5 police officers and wounding 7 others.

Dallas police officers stand guard at a road block to the crime scene at El Centro College where a sniper unleashed a barrage of bullets, killing 5 police officers and wounding 7 others. Marcus Yam/LA Times via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Marcus Yam/LA Times via Getty Images

The morning after a gunman targeted and killed five law enforcement officers, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings called it “ironic” that his city was the target of the worst police loss-of-life since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Ironic because the police department says it has taken great strides to avoid the kind of confrontations and incidents that have led to distrust and frayed race relations in some communities. “This police department trained in de-escalation far before cities across America did it,” Rawlings told reporters Friday. “We are one of the premier community policing cities in the country.”

According to data from the Dallas Police Department, the number of complaints alleging excessive and improper use of force has fallen from 147 in 2009 to 13 through mid-November of 2015.

Even more dramatically, the department reports that the number of shootings involving police went from 23 in 2012 to just one this year (before last night).

There appear to be two reasons for the decline: training and transparency.

Dallas Police training now emphasizes de-escalation, rather than confrontation. Video on the Dallas Morning News website shows so-called “real-life” training: staged scenarios which officers might encounter in the field such as a man waving a weapon.

In the video, Dallas Police Chief David Brown says, “Slowing down, waiting for cover, de-escalating situations we hope will become the new normal for policing in Dallas where we can give ourselves a chance to survive a deadly force confrontation with more cover.”

The department has also increased the number of body and dashboard cameras recording police actions. The reasoning is that is likely to cause officers to think about their actions.

But there are important caveats to the department’s data, too. There has been no study done showing that the increased training and monitoring has caused the decrease in Dallas police violence, only the correlation.

And it’s important to point out that, from 2010 through 2014, Dallas had one of the highest rates of killings by police in the country, when adjusted for population (2.7 per 100,000 residents). That data was published by the Better Government Association, an Illinois watchdog group focusing on Chicago, which had the highest total number of killings during that same period—70.

Even so, very few U.S. police departments have matched Dallas. The White House and the Justice Department praise the Dallas police for being one of 53 jurisdictions participating in the Police Data Initiative, “a community of practice that includes leading law enforcement agencies, technologists, and researchers committed to improving the relationship between citizens and police through uses of data that increase transparency, build community trust, and strengthen accountability.”

The Dallas Police website has comprehensive data available to the public, that enables anyone to see how an incident was resolved, what weapon was used, where it happened, even a narrative of each shooting.

Although the suspect in Thursday night’s attack told police he was targeting “white people,” experts say it’s unclear whether he was really targeting the Dallas police in particular.

Norman Stamper, a former Seattle Police Chief who is now writing about police reform, said the attack could have been anywhere a lot of people—and a lot of cops— were gathered. “He (the shooter) found a large gathering and shot as many people as he could. That’s what mass shooters do.”

Editor’s Note: The original data source contained broken links to incident reports. (Download our cleaned version of the data.)

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In Dallas, Fear That 'Love And Understanding Will Never Win'

Protestors react as police officers arrest a bystander in downtown Dallas following Thursday's shooting.

Protestors react as police officers arrest a bystander in downtown Dallas following Thursday’s shooting. Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images

We’re still waiting for the full picture of what happened in Dallas, Texas — and in Baton Rouge, La., and in Falcon Ridge, Minn., for that matter — to emerge. But what we know so far is this: In Dallas Thursday night, hundreds of people gathered for what had been a peaceful protest over the deaths of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana, two black men who were killed by police officers earlier in the week.

Demonstration in #Dallas pic.twitter.com/Wpd5VbvsR5

— Dallas Police Depart (@DallasPD) July 8, 2016

As the demonstration was winding down, shots were fired at Dallas police officers who were monitoring the march. Five officers were killed, and seven more were wounded. Two civilians were also injured.

The shooter has been identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25 year-old African-American military veteran. At morning press conference, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said that the shooter was killed by a police “bomb robot,” but had told the police hostage negotiator that he “was upset about Black Lives Matter” and that he “wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.” According to Brown, Johnson also said he “was not affiliated with any groups and that he did this alone.” Brown was passionate in his call for unity:

“We’re hurting. Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting. We are heart-broken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is that this, this most stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens…

For more coverage on Dallas, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile, follow The Two-Way, where NPR covers breaking news, and Code Switch. To contribute to our reporting, click here.

I spoke with the families of the deceased and the injured. They are not having a good time trying to deal, absorb this. Trying to understand why. And they need your prayers. So please, join us in helping us comfort the grieving officers’ families. And I’ll trust that soon, because we’re working very diligently and processing the crime scene to find evidence to bring any of the suspects to justice that were a part of this. But please pray for our strength through this trying time. Thank you.”

Here’s some of what we’re seeing from other folks who are from or who live in Dallas:

“I’m scared for my life,” Zignat Abdisubhan, a 27-year-old who lives in Garland, a suburb of Dallas, wrote to Code Switch in an email. She identifies as a first-generation African-American Muslim woman. “I’m scared to protest. I’m scared for my future sons. I’m scared that this divide between the so-called ‘sides’ in this police brutality debate will be ever deepened. You can be pro-BLM and pro-police. That’s a thing. I’m scared that it will always be us vs them after this. I’m scared that love and understanding will never win.”

We also heard from Joe Jones, a 35-year-old Atlanta native who moved to Dallas three years ago. Jones, who’s African-American, was a pastor for seven years. He told us over Skype that — prior to the Dallas shootings — he’d seen a tonal shift in the way his friends and acquaintances talk about race and policing.

“I think that Philando Castile in particular — it was so personal in a way that people who were in the middle, specifically white people, could feel and empathize in a way that I had never seen before,” Jones said, citing the fact that Castile was in the car with his girlfriend and her daughter, and that Castile was carrying permit for his gun. “Folks who I had never seen sympathize with a young black man who had been shot by a cop were able to say for the first time, ‘I can see myself in that position. I know that he did the thing that was expected of him to do,’ and they reacted by starting to think about and question whether or not there was an issue.”

Jones said that that there’s a false binary between folks who condemn police violence against black Americans, and those who support police officers. “The people on both sides are still in a grieving place where pain is a unifier.”

On social media, folks expressed a full range of reactions. A Twitter user in Dallas seemed to share Jones’ perspective, that pain sometimes unifies:

This is just tragic. For EVERYONE. I’m honestly at a loss for words on this one. #DallasPoliceShootings

— Brandon R. Gibson (@graisinbrand) July 8, 2016

Others seemed overwhelmed:

My city is going nuts. I would have never imagined that #Dallas would show out like this. #DallasPoliceShootings #Message #PrayForAmerica

— ~Hiatus~ (@_eiknujcisum_) July 8, 2016

One woman from Dallas wrote that her “heart goes out to the city [she] grew up in,” and that she’s unsure of how to respond to everything that’s been happening. She added:

#PoliceLivesMatter was never in jeopardy. Police lives have always mattered. That’s why in police brutality cases they are not convicted.

— maggie (@char_mag) July 8, 2016

Please don’t let this overshadow the larger issue, #blacklivesmatter and we need to start holding law enforcement to a higher standard.

— maggie (@char_mag) July 8, 2016

We’ll continue updating this post as we hear more stories. Tweet at us @NPRCodeSwitch or email us at codeswitch@npr.org to share yours.

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Abdul Sattar Edhi, Known As 'Pakistan's Mother Teresa,' Dies At 88

Abdul Sattar Edhi talks about his charity work in a 2004 interview as his wife Bilqees Edhi looks on. His offices were located amid a labyrinth of shabby rooms in Karachi's old quarter. His private welfare network provided many services nationwide, helping the poor, the disabled and victims of violence.

Abdul Sattar Edhi talks about his charity work in a 2004 interview as his wife Bilqees Edhi looks on. His offices were located amid a labyrinth of shabby rooms in Karachi’s old quarter. His private welfare network provided many services nationwide, helping the poor, the disabled and victims of violence. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

Abdul Sattar Edhi, Pakistan’s best known humanitarian, died in Karachi on Friday night.

From his base in Karachi’s inner city, Edhi, who was 88, created a network of social services for his country, including a fleet of 1,500 ambulances, 24-hour emergency services, homeless shelters, orphanages, blood banks and homes for unwanted and abandoned infants. During years of gang violence in Karachi, Edhi frequently drove his own ambulance and showed up personally to transport and care for the injured or wash the dead.

Widely admired for his stubborn integrity — he only accepted private donations, refusing government offers of support — and commitment to helping Pakistan’s destitute and forgotten, Edhi was often referred to as “Pakistan’s Mother Teresa.” He saw charity as a central tenet of Islam and lived humbly with his wife, Bilquis, in the same building as his organization’s offices.

But unlike Mother Teresa, Edhi had to operate in the face of death threats and other obstacles. In past years, his ambulances were attacked, as were volunteers who worked for his organization. Islamists occupied one of his Karachi facilities, and the baby cradles he and Bilquis set up to accept unwanted babies were criticized as encouraging out-of-wedlock births.

Pakistan's most renowned humanitarian, Abdul Sattar Edhi (left), shares a meal with children living in one of his charity houses in Karachi. Edhi died Friday at age 88.

Pakistan’s most renowned humanitarian, Abdul Sattar Edhi (left), shares a meal with children living in one of his charity houses in Karachi. Edhi died Friday at age 88. Shakil Adil/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

toggle caption Shakil Adil/ASSOCIATED PRESS

“They call him an infidel, saying that he does not say his prayers,” Bilquis told the Guardian last year. “What we are doing should be done by the government and should be appreciated, but instead we are blamed.”

Born in India, Edhi emigrated to Pakistan soon after India’s partition in 1947. He started a clinic and a one-man ambulance service in Karachi after the death of his mother, whom he’d cared for during years of illness.

Recalling his early years in Karachi, “I saw people lying on the pavement,” he told NPR’s Julie McCarthy in 2009. “The flu had spread in Karachi, and there was no one to treat them. So I set up benches and got medical students to volunteer. I was penniless and begged for donations on the street. And people gave. I bought this 8-by-8 room to start my work.”

Over the years, this grew into the Edhi Foundation, Pakistan’s most relied-upon social safety net, handling many of the responsibilities that the Pakistani government could not or would not.

“There’s so much craftiness and cunning and lying in the world,” Edhi told NPR. “I feel happy that God made me different from the others. I helped the most oppressed.”

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Iraqi PM Sacks Baghdad Security Chief After Deadly Bombing

An Iraqi woman mourns at the site of a July 3rd attack, claimed by Islamic State, which killed at least 292 people. Baghdad's security chief has since been fired, but outrage at the government still remains high.

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

Iraq’s Prime Minister fired Baghdad’s chief security officer Friday after the deadly weekend bombing that killed close to 300, and provoked criticism over the government’s ability to prevent such attacks.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the dismissal of the Baghdad Operations Commander on Facebook as well as the removal of other security and intelligence officials, Reuters reports.

“The sacking of the Baghdad Operations Commander was due to accumulated mistakes that cannot be overlooked,” said one senior security official quoted by the news service.

The early Sunday morning attack on a busy street in Baghdad’s Karada neighborhood is being considered the deadliest since the U.S.-led invasion, killing at least 292 people according to Iraq’s health ministry. Many of the bodies have yet to be identified, NPR’s Leila Fadel tells our Newscast unit.

“The health minister Adeela Hamoud visited the morgue Thursday and asked families to come forward for DNA testing to help identify 177 unidentified bodies,” Leila reports

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, but outrage quickly turned to the government.

A Sunday visit by al-Abadi to the site was met by angered residents who pelted the Prime Minister with various objects.

As Leila goes on to say many Iraqis have turned their attention to failings in security equipment and procedures, including bomb detectors:

“People focused their rage on the continued use of fake bomb detectors, proven to be useless. The British man who sold them was arrested for fraud in the U.K. But the hand-held devices were still widely used by Baghdad’s security forces. Since the blast al-Abadi ordered that they stop being used.”

The dismissals come a day after another attack, this time at a Shiite shrine just north of Baghdad. NPR’s Alice Fordham tells our newscast unit ISIS – which frequently targets Shiite Muslims – has already claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 30 people:

“The assault on the shrine in Balad, north of the capital, began with a mortar attack followed by three suicide attackers in military uniforms. According to an official statement, those attackers reached the outside gate of the shrine, where security forces fired at them, causing two of the attackers to detonate their explosives in a market next to the shrine.”

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Frightened Rabbit On World Cafe

Frightened Rabbit.

Frightened Rabbit. dan massie/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption dan massie/Courtesy of the artist

  • “Get Out”
  • “Break”
  • “Woke Up Hurting”
  • “The Modern Leper”

Upon hearing Frightened Rabbit‘s 2008 album Midnight Organ Fight, it was easy to fall in love with songwriter and lead singer Scott Hutchison’s self-deprecating everyman persona. Still, the U.S. hadn’t fully embraced the Glasgow band until its most recent album, Painting Of A Panic Attack, released earlier this year. (“Get Out” cracked public radio listeners’ top 10 songs of the year so far.)

In this session, Hutchison discusses the band’s approach to recording Painting Of A Panic Attack, which was produced by Aaron Dessner of The National. He also talks about the pros and cons of spending time in Los Angeles, away from Glasgow’s pub culture, before making the album. Hear the conversation and a live performance at the audio link above.

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