Dallas police officers respond to approximately 600,000 calls for service each year. Combined with these calls are the numerous citizen contacts made when officers provide general assistance, participate in community engagement programs, enforce traffic laws and take proactive enforcement to disrupt and interdict criminal activities, leading to roughly 1,000,000 citizen contacts per year. Day in and day out these numerous contacts result in providing professional service to our citizens and make Dallas a safer community to live.
Sometimes these contacts place officers in dangerous situations. Officers have an occupational responsibility to enter into circumstances which clearly could place them in danger while they are serving the community. All the while, officers have an affirmative obligation to use lethal force as a last resort and are specifically trained to use reasonable alternatives as time and opportunities permit. Yet there are incidents in which the use of lethal force cannot be avoided.
When an officer becomes involved in an incident in which another person is seriously injured or killed, or where a death or serious injury occurs to a person in police custody, two different investigations begin immediately. Responding supervisors take detailed actions to preserve the crime scene and isolate involved personnel. Notifications are made for specialized resources to respond. Internal communications are made to affected police commanders and the Chief of Police. Involved personnel are removed from field duty pending a thorough and unbiased review of their actions.
A criminal investigation is conducted by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU). SIU is comprised of experienced homicide detectives and seasoned leadership. These detectives interview all witnesses and direct an exhaustive collection of evidence. Specially trained Crime Scene physical evidence detectives assist SIU. Initial findings are shared with the FBI Civil Rights Unit within the first 24 hours. The completed investigation is referred to the Dallas County District Attorney's Office for independent review.
The District Attorney's Office then presents the case to a Grand Jury of county citizens for examination. The Grand Jury makes a determination whether or not the officer committed a criminal act when involved in the OIS. If the Grand Jury concludes that the officer's actions did not constitute a criminal action, the officer is no-billed, meaning he/she is not charged with a crime. However, if the Grand Jury determines the officer's actions were of a criminal nature the officer will be true-billed, meaning he/she will be charged with a criminal offense.
A concurrent administrative investigation is performed by the Internal Affairs Division (IAD). This review determines whether the officer's actions are in compliance with departmental policy, training and use of force guidelines. Outcomes from this investigation guide the department toward improving its training and procedures. Additionally, if the IAD investigation finds that an officer violated policy, whether or not the shooting was justified, disciplinary action or additional training may be imposed.