In the aftermath of January’s fatal shooting of a police gang unit member, Dallas plans to limit sharply the number of officers who can serve arrest warrants on suspects considered dangerous, reports the Dallas Morning News. The department is training officers on new rules that will limit the serving of felony warrants to specialized squads. The new rules would require that officers knock and announce that they are police, eliminating a “ruse” tactic used on the evening that Senior Cpl. Norman Smith died.
Previously, the department didn’t restrict who could serve felony warrants – for crimes generally committed by the most dangerous, violent criminals – and there were few rules. Senior police officials said the changes will be deeply unpopular with rank and file patrol officers but cite safety as an overriding factor. “It’s a smart move to have a protocol in place,” said Ed Nowicki of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. Sgt. Sheldon Smith of Dallas’ Black Police Association said the changes will make the department more safe and efficient. “In the past, because we run so many warrants, we’ve taken it for granted that everything is going to be OK,” said Smith, who is not related to the slain officer. “As we’ve seen  things can change in the blink of an eye.”