Anti-Police Violence in Dallas Hits City That Has Worked Hard to Reform Officer Behavior

Chief arranged for de-escalation training and got rid of bad cops.


Dallas Police
Ralph Lauer/EPA/Newscom

This morning Dallas Police have identified the man they believe responsible for shooting officers at protests yesterday, killing five. His name is Micah Xavier Johnson, of Mesquite, a suburb to the east of Dallas. He was killed by an explosive attached to a police bomb-defusing robot when he refused to surrender. Johnson reportedly said he wanted to kill police officers, specifically white police officers.

He also said he was not connected to the Black Lives Matter movement and was doing this on his own.

The city Johnson decided to target, Dallas, is notable for how it has worked hard to reform its policing practices. Yesterday, before this attack happened, I made note of criticism that Baltimore's alleged reform of use of force policies appeared to be more like shuffling language around rather than promising any sort of practical changes or consequences.

In Dallas, though, they didn't stop with just updating policies. They actually trained and put policies into practice to keep officers from overreacting during encounters with citizens. Police Chief David Brown has been at the forefront of pushing for change, even when police unions and even the local press resisted.

Former Reason Editor Radley Balko, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces, was acknowledging Brown's responses back in 2014:

A number of older and retired police officers and police trainers I've interviewed over the last few years say that lethal force training has undergone a decided shift in emphasis over the last decade or two. Where the training once emphasized deescalation and conflict resolution, it now tends to be more about how to justify an use of force incident after the fact. There's also an emerging narrative from some law enforcement groups that cops are too hesitant, and aren't killing people often enough. The cops and trainers I've spoken to are worried about this version of events.

That Brown seems to share those concerns about lethal force is a point in his favor. Brown also hasn't hesitated to fire cops who show poor judgment. The cop who shot the unarmed carjacking suspect has been fired. In 2011, Brown fired a cop caught kicking and macing a handcuffed suspect. Brown then praised the supervisor who reported the incident, and warned any officers thinking of retaliating against him for piercing the Blue Wall of Silence.

Brown fires bad cops, independently of whether they get convicted of crimes.

Dallas has since seen a decline in excessive force complaints and officer-involved shootings. At the same time, they've also seen a drop in arrests and murders. BuzzFeed notes that deadly police shootings in Dallas have decreased in recent years, down to 11 last year. This year, the police believe they've only fatally shot one person in Dallas so far. If true, that very much makes Dallas an outlier. Current independently gathered data on fatal shootings by police shows that officers have shot 509 citizens so far this year, putting them slightly ahead of last year's pace. According to the Washington Post, police have killed 27 more people this year than at this same time last year.   

BuzzFeed notes that Dallas has also seen drops in arrests and murders recently (though numbers climbed last year, as they had in several large cities). I wouldn't necessarily associate the two given the national general trend of crime dropping over the past decade.

The numbers do serve as an indictment to the idea of the Ferguson effect, that increased scrutiny of police behavior and increased carefulness by police officers emboldens criminals and leads to more crime. Prior to the attack, the Dallas protest by Black Lives Matter supporters appeared to be completely peaceful, and there were even photos posted on social media of protesters posing with officers.

Let's hope that this violence doesn't result in a push to try to get Brown to rethink his leadership style and turn Dallas into a place where police look for reasons to justify their behavior rather than to focus on better community policing.

NEXT: That Time When Raising the Minimum Wage Cut the Number of Jobs

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  1. Too little too late

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  2. Superb work as always, Scott. And your last sentence, so much.

    1. Oh, and +2 for the Alt Text 🙂

  3. If your goal is to create division between the two parties, then Dallas was a good choice.

    1. That guy isn’t very bright is he?

      1. He’ll put his eye out…

      2. Jiovanne Del Cristo ?@JiovanneDC 5h5 hours ago

        @Dara_Yazdani Those are AirSoft guns, you fool! Not the real thing. Feel free to continue lecturing about what you obviously don’t know.
        4 retweets 24 likes

        Dara Yazdani ?@Dara_Yazdani 5h5 hours ago

        @JiovanneDC feel free to keep getting shot.

        Why, I got shot twice today on the drive into work! And I’d call that a good commute!

        1. Nope, not AirSoft but a proper eye-putting-out .177 caliber BB gun.

          And good to see Dara doubling down on his idiocy.

        2. I got shot in the face last weekend. Sure, my eyes stung for awhile, and some got into my hair (which always sucks), but I managed.

          1. I get shot all the time, but it never occurred to me if I gave up my guns it would stop. Thank God this Dara Yazdani guy showed me the light.

        3. Best response:

          Abner Snopes ?@humidpress 3h3 hours ago

          @Dara_Yazdani Can you believe I was able to just walk into a store and buy this military grade body armor?

          *pic of kid in pink bunny outfit*

          I’m enjoying everyone ripping him to shreds. Restores a little of my lost faith in humanity. Not much, but a little.

      3. Ignorance is strength. The less he knows about guns, the more effective he is as an ambassador for gun control.

        1. All the better to conflate issues, use emotional bait and switch techniques, report spurious “facts” and clamor for any and every thing on basis of emotion.

      4. He’s your one-stop shop for real talk, though.

    2. If it saves even one child‘s…eye

      1. Damn your nimble fingers.

        1. Fastest hands in the west. Ask anyone

      2. Best of Christmas Story

        I feel lied to. That video was greater than 0 seconds in duration. The set of things that were great about A Christmas Story = {}.

    3. You have to scroll a bit, but I found the “this isn’t the Wild West”.

      1. Loved that bit. Why don’t you just go to the store if you want some meat?? It’s the 21st century!

      2. I liked this one

        Rob ?@TherealRob70 5h5 hours ago

        @Dara_Yazdani bad ppl will do bad things.blame them, not the object. I carry, evryday. for MY protection. Making me vulnerable won’t stop it
        8 retweets 26 likes
        View other replies

        Dara Yazdani ?@Dara_Yazdani 4h4 hours ago

        @TherealRob70 thank you Rob for at least keeping the debate sensible. Wouldn’t you feel safer if no one carried guns? That is my point.
        0 retweets 0 likes
        View other replies

        I assume he’s arguing for disarming all the world’s police forces and disbanding all the world’s military/paramilitary/militant groups when he says “no one carried guns”. You know, in addition to getting all the criminals to turn their guns in.

        It’s brilliant, really. Why hasn’t anyone tried that before?

        1. Wouldn’t you feel safer if no one carried guns?

          So either Genghis Khan never existed, or else he secretly had firearms.

          1. “Anyone who says that my fantasy land that never has and never will exist is unrealistic is a knuckle-dragging cretin.”

          2. Nope. What is at issue is NOT a hardware problem, but the software that controls the hardware. As ever, THAT is the root issue. When Cain rose up and killed his brother Abel, did God ban rocks or clubs or whatever he used? Nope. He banished HIM. Dealt with the software issue in Cain’s heart.

            there will ALWAYS be means to kill. Thus anyone with intent to kill will find some means, and then seek or create the opportunity. As long as that evil lurks in the heart of man, I WILL carry. No, a .45 ACP won’t stop a brick thrown at me…. but if I see it soon enough I can likely dodge it, or at least deflect it. The brick in the hand of a perpetrator intent on smashing my head with it, well, now, that’s another story. And for that, the .45 ACP is rather useful to encourage the would be murderer to make an informed decision that he has other options for how to pass his time than killing me for my “stuff”.

          1. The inalienable right to self-defenestration

        2. “Wouldn’t you feel safer if no one carried guns?”

          No, because then you’re vulnerable to anyone bigger than you (like most of history).

    4. Dara Yazdani ?@Dara_Yazdani
      @FutballUnited forget the pic you cretin. You can buy automatic weapons at Walmart. That is fucked up

      *Closes browser window, starts truck to head to Walmart*

      1. If only we lived in the world these people seem to think we live in, where every aspect of our lives is “unrestricted” and “unregulated”…

  4. Look, Mr. Headline Writer, “violence” didn’t hit Dallas, a specific individual shot some cops. Maybe some other people helped him and maybe not.

    This is the sort of writing that leads to phrases like “gun violence.”

    1. Picky, picky, picky!

      You’re a towel!

      1. You’re a stupid beaner towel!

  5. Read until the second reference to bozzfood at which point I assumed everything was clickbait.

  6. Once again Scott goes off the libertarian deep end and explicitly calls for more police brutality.

  7. Once they do it in Fallujah it’s not long before it’s done here.


  8. Weren’t multiple people arrested? Was this really the only guy? Also, the vast majority of the people protesting aren’t technically part of the BLM organization, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t share the same goals and support them. I hate cops too, and I blame it on their culture of being above the law, but the BLM rallies have been full of chants and calls calling directly for the murder of cops, far beyond any other rhetoric from other sources lately.

    1. the vast majority of the people protesting aren’t technically part of the BLM organization

      So, #blm but not #BLM.

    2. “but the BLM rallies have been full of chants and calls calling directly for the murder of cops, far beyond any other rhetoric from other sources lately.”

      But I hear they didn’t really *mean* they wanted “dead cops” when they said they wanted it.

    3. The vast majority of the people protesting aren’t technically part of the BLM organization, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t share the same goals and support them . . . . BLM rallies have been full of chants and calls calling directly for the murder of cops”

      What do you want to do about that?

      1. Nothing. Just some consistency from the left about all their bullshit “rhetoric” talk anything happens that furthers their agenda. I acknowledge shit like what Trump says is rhetoric that definitely leads people to anger and potentially violence. I don’t think he shouldn’t be allowed to say it, but people have been rightfully calling him out on it. BLM gets away with more direct violent rhetoric and gets a pass from everybody but FoxNews.

        1. So this is about awareness?

          You understand that most people can’t tell the difference in this situation between complaining about what people say and think and wanting to do something about what people say and think, though, right?

          In the wake of tragedy, when you point to what people say and think as the cause, an awful lot of people, subconsciously or otherwise, will assume that doing something about what people say and think is the solution.

          Thank goodness this guy wasn’t a libertarian, but I’d rather live in a world where people don’t blame one person’s stupid and insane actions on what other people say and think. I mean, there’s a big difference between chanting things and shooting people, right? Lots of people chanted things and never shot anybody.

    4. One fellow in a camo shirt was all but lynched by Farenheit 451 reporters blasting his photo everywhere as if already convicted. Hillary’s alleged felony was leaking info that might alert victims of the identity of some US perpetrators, thereby exposing them to harm. If the innocent and self-disarmed protester had been gunned down from behind, who among the reporters and illiterate chief of police would be held liable for instigating the lynch mob to hunt him down?

  9. “He also said he was not connected to the Black Lives Matter movement and was doing this on his own.”

    If he had been connected to the Black Lives Matter movement, what difference would that make? Were we going to curtail freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, or the freedom to petition government?

    I worked in a lock down psych ward. I used to ask one of the psychiatrists about interesting cases: Why does Patient X think he’s Nero? He told me the guy was insane.

    Point was that trying to rationalize insanity can make us insane. I don’t know what this murderer was trying to achieve, but if he was trying to disgrace the BLM movement into oblivion, he could hardly have thought of a better strategy. If he wanted to make the Dallas police even more paranoid and likely to overreact, he could hardly have thought of a better strategy. If he wasn’t trying to achieve either one, then he was stupid, insane, or both.

    From a public policy standpoint, it probably shouldn’t matter why stupid and crazy people do stupid and crazy things. There is nothing we were doing before that we should stop doing now just because some idiot nutjob did something insane. There isn’t anything we weren’t doing before that we should start doing now just because someone nutjob did something stupid and crazy either. Because someone was stupid and crazy isn’t a good reason to do or not do anything from a public policy standpoint.

      1. Medical Records.

        HIM they call it now.

        I swear.

      2. Dammit.

    1. Good post; you cannot fix stupid, or crazy. Of course the argument will be to render them less lethal through gun control: for every 300,000 or so law abiding and responsible persons, they will have to relinquish some of all of their rights to prevent one crazy from misusing a gun.

      Still waiting for pic of his “assault” rifle to cover the web pages; expect that will be later today or tomorrow.

      1. There is something ISIS like in this shooting spree.

        When ISIS indiscriminately murders people in Bangladesh, it isn’t like they’re trying to chase the British out of Ireland or the Israelis out of Palestine. They aren’t trying to scare the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia or provoke us into a Soviet style ground war in Afghanistan.

        ISIS has issues, but they don’t really have a list of demands, per se. Half the time, it isn’t even really retaliation. They just want to kill the people they see as their enemies in spectacular fashion–by itself. When the opportunity to kill their perceived enemies presents itself, that’s what they do.

        They have reasons why they think various people are their enemies, but there’s no real logic behind the terrorism in terms of strategy or results.

        This shooting spree was like that. It may have even been imitative of ISIS that way, subconsciously or otherwise. Maybe this is the way people express themselves now. Even nutjob outfits like the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Manson Family had strategies and objectives. I doubt this shooting spree had any objective strategy beyond killing cops.

        There’s no appropriate public policy that treats everyday people as if they were insane that way before they do something pointless, stupid, and insane. Public policy itself becomes crazy when it tries to do that.

      2. Some wise guy didn’t have to wait till they captured the “only” perp and his toolkit. It was announced earlier by someone who “knows” that he was “shooting with high capacity magazines”.. I think it was the kinyun wretch that I saw quoted. Made wonder what the balistics chart is like for those “high capacity magazines”. They can’t possibly travel very flat…..

    2. I worked in a lock down psych ward.

      A guy who frequents a libertarian blog wants us to believe he *only* worked in a psych ward. Uh-huh, sure, whatever you say.

      1. You’re the ones that are crazy!

        I’m the only sane one here.

        Well, me and Agile Cyborg.

        1. What would Nero do?

  10. http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016…..ype=Email=

    1. IT is clear that you, white America, will never understand us.

      This is supposed to be helpful, how, exactly?

      1. Since when is virtue signaling not helpful

        1. Mindless collectivism has a good track record of getting innocent people killed.

      2. It underlines for me the long term effects of being “helped” by the (White) Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressive Left. You listen to their delusional idiocy long enough, eventually it drives you bugfuck.

      3. What about white Europe? Surely Scandinavia grasps what we cannot. Bernie said so.

    2. Anyone who assume to know what I think just because of the color of my skin isn’t worth my time. Anyone who uses the term “white America” to refer to a subset of people (who may or may not be white) that tend to side with police and blame the victim in these shootings isn’t worth my time.

      1. Anyone who assume to know what I think just because of the color of my skin isn’t worth my time.

        This. Anyone who assumes what anyone else is thinking based solely on the color of their skin is a collectivist diaper stain and isn’t worth giving a second thought to. Unfortunately, for some reason the NYT saw fit to give this particular diaper stain a huge fucking soap box. I couldn’t even make it past the first sentence:

        We, black America, are a nation of nearly 40 million souls inside a nation of more than 320 million people…

        What a load of horseshit. So much for “There’s no black or white America, just the United States of America…”

  11. If your goal was to discredit the BLM movement, having a guy execute 5 police officers is probably a pretty good way to do it.

  12. Dallas has since seen a decline in excessive force complaints and officer-involved shootings.

    I hate that fucking euphemism. Its applied, at times, to cover both shootings by cops, and shootings of cops. For the former, it makes the damn cop sound like a passive bystander.

    Call it what it is – “excessive force complaints and shootings by officers”. Don’t let other people control the language. If they control the language, they control the narrative, and they get to dictate the outcome. Fuck that.

    1. It could also mean return of gunfire where nobody gets shot. It’s not nearly as Orwellian as most of the language the government forces on us nowadays.

      1. +1 Patriot Act

    2. Whoever controls the spice controls the universe!

    3. Dallas has since seen a decline in excessive force complaints and officer-involved shootings assaults, attempted murder and murders by police.

    4. I hate that euphemism too. It should be “armed-bureaucrat-involved shootings.”

      1. “Government stooge involved shootings”

  13. Clearly this was not only premeditated but a coordinated attack. I hope the FBI will thoroughly investigate BLM and dig out and prosecute anyone who may have planned or ordered the attack — including the group’s sugar daddy, George Soros.

  14. Maybe Nakia Jones should move to Big D…


  15. Effective, responsible policing which led to less arrests = Police doing their jobs less because they fear public backlash and violence against them?

    Even some experts who vehemently denied any “Ferguson effect” is having second thoughts. Violent crimes are shooting up in some cities.

  16. If it was going to happen, it should have happend in LA, Chicago, Baltimore, D.C. or Albequerque

  17. What has struck me about the coverage I’ve seen, is both the BLM protesters and the Police in Dallas I’ve seen interviewed are the most reasonable and decent of their kind that I’ve ever seen on tv.

    Makes me think about moving to Dallas.

  18. When the anointed class is above the law, eventually mob violence will follow. The frustration level of the average person is rising everywhere. The common citizen, who is compelled to obey even the most mundane rules without fail, feels more helpless every day. Sadly, these cops were just convenient targets for someone’s anger. Will anyone ask Comey (FBI) or Lynch (AG) if they feel any responsibility? Ask them if perhaps the “no indictment” BS was the last straw? Instead it will again be the guns, (an apparently a veteran) taking the blame, rather than a look at the confidence people have in government? confidence government is screwing us every chance they get.

  19. THe author cited two cases of bad cops being fired but the cases sounded like normal work related firings rather than special efforts. The problems are likely exacerbated by affirmative action policies and this incident. White police officers will be leaving on a jet plane and be replaced by less qualified blacks though affirmative action targets have been exceeded for lack of white applicants.

  20. This is all good stuff, and encouraging, except for one thing: i’ve read earlier reports that shooters were firing from at least two positions, possibly a third, as they were “triangulating” their shots with careful placement for their desired effect. If this guy is the only one, as he claims, something is amiss.

    I still smell false flag, and have from the beginning. More needs to be uncovered about this one perp. I understand there were three others arrested…. if memory serves, two shooters and a third, some sort of “enabler” or support.

  21. “The numbers do serve as an indictment to the idea of the Ferguson effect, ”

    Actually, they confirm it rather nicely: Arrests drop when cops drive on by or refuse to take reports after someone complains.

  22. Where is Gary Johnson?

    Where is the libertarian voice in this mess – colorblind equality under rule of law, police reform, gun rights, etc?

    1. Hi Peter, Gary was the least disgusting impostor, not the most competent. Focus on congressional, gubernatorial, senate and statehouse candidates in your district for best results. LP candidates averaged 3% in Texas races last election.

  23. Libertarian platform policies could have prevented this. We were and are against invading foreign countries whose governments did not attack These States. So the production of shellshocked militarized police and ticking-time-bomb veterans would never have occurred. The LP also opposes prohibition–the overt motive for a large fraction of the mindless murders by looter cops in recent years. A libertarian police force defends individual rights. A DemoGOP police force randomly murders innocent, unarmed persons until the streets fill up with protesters and opportunity to even the collectivist score beckons.
    This Dallas business is a clear demonstration of how BOTH parties committed to violent initiation of force are failures because of their explicit policies and platforms.

  24. One problem with police that nobody has mentioned is their tendency to use drugs. Yes, really. I’d guess that very few of them use stimulants as strong (and illegal) as cocaine, but I daresay most of them use perfectly legal caffeine pills. It’s unguessable how many of them use steroids, since steroids break down quickly in the bloodstream and leave no detectable traces. Speeds and steroids tend to make the user short-tempered, hostile and paranoid. This, more than racism, would explain the tendency of cops to kill unarmed citizens of every race — which we’ve seen too often.

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