After last week’s sniper shooting that left five Dallas police officers dead, many people have lamented that it happened in a city with a black police chief who even critics say has made inroads with the community and worked to steer his force away from its history of racism and abuse, the New York Times reports.
Since Chief David Brown took over in 2010, excessive-force complaints have dropped 64 percent, and he has started de-escalation and a successful community policing program. For all the progress that the Dallas police have made, the city remains one of the most segregated cities, with yawning racial gaps in housing, schools and employment.
While the Dallas Police Department has gained national acclaim, the extent to which its reforms have changed how black residents view the police, and the extent to which they have altered the way the city’s most marginalized residents interact with the police, depend largely on whom you ask. A 2014 survey by the Dallas-based Embrey Family Foundation found that while 67 percent of Dallas’s black residents believed that the city’s black men received “a lot” of discrimination, only 37 percent of white people thought the same. There is a constellation of militant black nationalist groups in Dallas, the birthplace of the New Black Panther Party, born out of a legacy of police brutality stretching back at least 40 years.