Dallas Police Chief David Brown said in a recent interview that the city would be better served by having one united police association instead of its current four groups. The associations for black and Latino officers involved said they just aren’t ready for that yet.
Race-based associations exist in many industries. Take, for instance, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Hispanic National Bar Association, and the National Association of Asian American Professionals.
But if it were up to Dallas Police Chief David Brown, the four associations that represent about 5,200 police officers—Dallas Police Association, Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, Black Police Association of Greater Dallas (BPA), and Dallas Latino Peace Officers Association (DLPOA)—would exist as one unified organization.
“I’m going to put my foot in it with this,” he said in a recent interview with the Dallas Morning News. “It’s time for Dallas to have one union representing all of our officers. The time for our unions to be segregated around race is long passed.”
Brown doesn’t have the authority to force the groups to merge, but he said he hoped to use the position of his office to at least get the conversation started. His motivation behind driving the groups together is a growing frustration over constant infighting and the difficulty that comes with managing relationships with four separate groups, he told the Dallas Observer.
While the groups understand the police chief’s desire to move past segregated representation, they said that now is not the right time.
“Those perspectives need to be heard, especially when they belong to minority officers,” Cletus Judge, president of BPA told the Observer. “Besides, it’s working.”
Under Brown, the Dallas Police Department saw an increase in diversity throughout various divisions, Judge said. But the groups still see inequities in things like discipline.
DLPOA President Robert Arrendondo agreed. “There are still a few issues that are more relevant to my membership than to other organizations,” he said in a statement provided to Associations Now. “But what’s important here is that while I fight for the benefit of my very diverse membership, any benefit I am able to achieve for my membership, is available to all Dallas police officers.”
While race-based associations may have a different voice or come at a particular issue from a different angle, Arrendondo said they all have the same goal in mind: to fight for their members.
“I am in a volunteer position and do this because I am compelled to make a difference in the quality of life of Dallas police officers,” he said. “We have four police associations in Dallas, and I am able to work in concert with them all for better pay, benefits, and equal treatment. [We’re all] very active in the community and will continue to be role models to the youth in the city of Dallas.”