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Dallas Police Issue Deadly Force Policy

August 19, 1988

DALLAS (AP) _ Police officials say a need to shed more light on their operations prompted them to make public the department’s deadly force policy for the first time.

The policy is an amended, simplified version of a plan that has been in effect since 1984, according to police spokesman Ed Spencer. The revised version takes effect Monday.

The policy states deadly force can be used ″only as a last resort″ and ″only when other, reasonable alternatives are impractical or fail.″ It prohibits the use of deadly force to protect property and forbids officers from firing warning shots.

Dallas police have drawn criticism from minority group leaders in the past year for being too quick to shoot at suspects. Last summer a congressional subcommittee conducted a hearing into the department’s deadly force policy, prompted by two white officers’ slayings of two elderly blacks in unrelated cases. The department hired outside consultants to review its policy.

″We just feel it’s important for the community to know the high standard the police place on the use of deadly force,″ acting Assistant Chief Marlin Price said Thursday.

Some police had argued that releasing the policy would let criminals know what acts they could commit without fearing officers’ use of weapons. But city officials praised the revision and releasing it to the public.

″I think it indicates their (the police department’s) openness and their willingness to let us all know what the rules are,″ said City Council member Craig Holcomb, chairman of the city’s Public Safety Committee. ″Previously, even council members ... didn’t know what the deadly force policy was.″

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