Inside the Dallas Police Department, old wounds are frequently reopened with transfer policies that sharply divide black, Hispanic, and white officers, says the Dallas Morning News. Internal memos and interviews with dozens within the department, from patrol officers to assistant chiefs, reveal a culture of distrust, brought on by a legacy of racial tension, doubts about leadership, and frequent exceptions to the transfer policy. Black and Hispanic officers say diversity is stifled by old-fashioned opinions, and white officers accuse the department of favoritism under a veil of diversity. Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said transfers were “the No. 1 point of contention” during his first meetings with police associations after taking over in late June.
The controversy revolves around whether several assistant and deputy chiefs are acting properly when they directly choose candidates for coveted investigative positions. Sergeants and lieutenants said that the interference of chiefs has often left them interviewing candidates and checking personnel records in vain, only to have their recommendations overruled by their commanders. Officers repeatedly pointed to transfers where the selected candidate didn’t properly understand investigative procedure, would have been “the last one we would have selected,” or had failed basic skills tests. “When you look at everything, it just doesn’t pass the smell test, and something is wrong and something is very unfair,” said Bob Gorsky, an attorney for the Dallas Police Association, which represents more than 85 percent of the department’s officers, including the vast majority of white officers. His firm is representing seven officers suing the city. Leaders of minority police associations say assistant and deputy chiefs have been forced to intervene because sergeants and lieutenants have failed to meet department diversity goals.