Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Audit: Failures of oversight at Dallas police academy

Grits has not been closely following the ongoing back and forth between the Dallas police chief and local police unions over failures in management, allegations of racial bias, supposed lax standards for new recruits, retaliation against whistle blowers,  etc., at the Dallas Police Academy.  The police union has accused DPD internal affairs of “Bullying and manipulating officers and civilians into providing manufactured statements that fit what the command staff may be looking for.” As DPD Chief David Brown put it, the whole thing is a "hot mess" into which I haven't had time to deeply delve.

But when I noticed in this article that the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCLE) issued an audit of the academy this week, I asked for it under open records and thought I'd post a copy for anyone interested. Here it is:
Not too much there, I'm afraid, that could help resolve the issues being raised between the chief and the unions.

TCLE found the academy's Advisory Board wasn't composed correctly, had no chair, and failed to function properly. There were also documentation issues. Nearly 20 percent of training rosters weren't submitted to TCLE within required time frames (30 days after completion), with the worst one 107 days late. DPD said a chair has now been appointed and plans to fix the rest.

One of the most strident complaints spurring the audit related to allowing students to take multiple retests of their driving test if they failed the first time. DPD has changed its policy to allow multiple retests but only if they're taken on the same day as the first one. They also created a policy for a single retest on written examinations if a cadet scores lower than 70.

Perhaps most concerning: The audit found that DPD exercised little oversight over in-service or academy curricula. Lesson plans hadn't been updated, contained insufficient detail, and the academy made little if any effort to ensure instructors were accountable for teaching from the lesson plan. And among instructors there was significant variation and little consistency regarding how students were graded. DPD was directed to "Develop a review of instructors to determine if the instructor is effective and ensure a process is in place to capture the student's critiques of the instructor." DPD says it will do so, but why wasn't it happening before?

Grits' own opinions on this nascent fiasco remain largely unformed. So far it feels more like a skirmish in a larger battle between the chief and the Dallas Police Association than a scandal in-and-of itself. But it does appear that DPD's management of the academy had become relatively lax and laissez faire, to say the least. So the episode gives the chief's critics more ammunition with which to attack him at a vulnerable spot where management is culpable. Ironically, cleaning house among academy leadership was probably necessary given that lack of oversight and supervision were the main flaws found in the TCLE audit. That won't stop the union from criticizing him, though. When there's blood in the water, sharks circle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When all else fails, blame the white guy. At least that's the defense the former academy head is using. He's even suing over it.