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Dallas police chief introduces new intervention system to help officers

The analytics system uses officer data like traffic stops and use-of-force incidents to run risk assessments

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In this May 11, 2021, photo Dallas deputy police chief William Griffith speaks about recruiting cadets for the department during an interview in Dallas.

Photo/Dallas Police Department

By Suzie Ziegler

DALLAS – On Tuesday, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia introduced a new system to alert supervisors to potentially troubled officers, reported the Dallas Morning News.

Garcia says the system’s goal is to intervene without punishing officers and “get them the help they need” to have a successful career, according to the report.

The system, which is called Benchmark Analytics, runs a risk assessment based on officer data, including use-of-force history, external and internal complaints, traffic stops and arrests. The system then compares that data to peers of a similar rank and experience, according to the report. Activity patterns that are considered outliers will be flagged for intervention.

That intervention will include a meeting with supervisors to discuss the context of the officer’s behavior and determine next steps, according to the report. Police say the intervention aims to improve officers’ interpersonal skills like time management, respectfulness, leadership, community engagement and conflict resolution.

Other major cities, like Phoenix, are using similar systems, said Deputy Police Chief William Griffith. According to Griffith, the system is a research-based approach that’s meant to prioritize outreach and head off future incidents.

Between 4 and 6% of the Dallas PD’s officers are expected to be flagged, according to a representative from Benchmark Analytics.

Not everyone is on board with the new system. City council member Cara Mendelsohn worries that the system sounds punitive and that “flags” will be noted in an officer’s personnel file.

“What I’m concerned about is that officers are going to be identified by an algorithm that we don’t even know what’s part of it,” Mendelsohn told the Dallas Morning News.

But Garcia says the flags will only appear in the management system.

“This is not necessarily going toward a disciplinary action, this is to save our officers and to save their careers and to save the integrity and professionalism of the Dallas Police Department,” Garcia said. “And to try to find ways to intervene sooner rather than later.”

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