A Dallas police major issued an apology after reports of obvious bigotry by a Dallas police officer surfaced.
Major Jim Lewis spoke to a crowd of people at the Polk-Wisdom Branch Library during a previously scheduled “meet and greet” between neighborhood residents and Dallas police officers who serve under Lewis at South Central patrol. Lewis said, “It’s sickening and disgusting.”
Tennell Atkins, a member of the Dallas city council, had planned the meeting for August 31 for some time.
The timing of the Wednesday night event worked out well.
According to DPD, administrative personnel discovered on Tuesday night that a police officer had shared a photo of a brand-new challenge coin created to honor South Central Patrol’s 15 years of operation on social media.
A price was being asked for the currency.
Terrance Hopkins, head of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas, said it was replete with overtly racist images.
A Pillsbury Dough Boy carrying a gun and money was depicted on the coin at what appeared to be a narcotics den.
The persona had gold teeth and was holding a wad of cash and an assault gun in each hand.
The “Big ‘T’ Plaza,” a shopping area in South Oak Cliff, as well as a purple automobile with big rims and a Dallas police car were all clearly visible.
Hopkins claimed that the term “dough boy” alludes to a film in which a drug dealer plays the lead role.
According to him, the pictures prompt residents to inquire things like, “Is this the way white officers view us in our community? Is this the only vision they have of Black people?”
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia stated at a news conference alongside Hopkins that he would not accept racist behavior. The police officer is currently on leave pending an investigation.
“This may have happened at the Dallas Police Department before I got here, but it’s the first time it’s happened since I’ve been here and I’m going to tell you I’m not having it,” Garcia said. “It’s not going to happen on my watch.”
At the town hall meeting, which took place hours after learning of the coin’s design become public, Lewis reiterated the chief’s sentiments.
“Let me apologize as the commander over the officers that work this area,” Lewis said. “We failed in this instance.”
Lewis informed the gathering that he was aware of the harm done.
However, Atkins stated that with the internal inquiry currently ongoing, he believed it could be fixed.
“Racism is not over with,” Atkins said.
Participants from the community questioned whether the officer who created the coin acted alone.
“There are other people in this as well and we need to get to the bottom of that,” Atkins and Lewis were informed by a woman.
Before Garcia took over the Dallas Police Department in 2019, racist messages exchanged by Dallas police came to light during the murder trial of former officer Amber Guyger, who was convicted in Botham Jean’s death.
The same year, a national inquiry turned up racist social media remarks made by police countrywide, including DPD members, which resulted in disciplinary action for several.
Longtime community activist and pastor of Dallas’ Abundant Life African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Michael Waters, notices a troubling trend.
“It’s a sickening depiction of Black life and it’s terrifying for me and terrifying for the in the south central area of Dallas,” about the coin, he remarked.
“It comes from a very horrid history in our nation of Black people caricature that allows for the dehumanization of Black people.”
He urged DPD to engage in “deep internal reflection” regarding what must be done to change the culture.
“This has an impact on the psyche of police officers and how they encounter the residents they’ve sworn an oath to serve,” he said.