A white Dallas police officer is on administrative leave as the department investigates allegations he made and attempted to sell a challenge coin that the Black Police Association has denounced as racist.
President Eddie Garcia said at a news conference on Wednesday that the officers’ design of the Southern Central Patrol Division’s coin was tainting the division. I apologize to the community. Police said southern Dallas is a priority, something they reiterated after two mass shootings there this spring.
“I don’t have it,” Garcia said. “It will not last on my watch. We have a standard in the Dallas Police Department. I will not allow anyone to stain that and stain our badge and what we do.”
“If there is a cultural problem here, I will change it or I will die trying,” he added.
Terrence Hopkins, president of the Black Police Association, said he was very upset that some people had seen the coin and didn’t know it.
On the one hand, the coin depicts a drug house and a modified portrait of Pillsbury Doughboy, who has golden teeth and holds money and a gun. Hopkins said the photo refers to a drug dealer named Doughboy from the movie Boys N Hood.
The words “Big ‘T’ Plaza” are scattered in the middle of the coin, which Hopkins said refers to Dallas A shopping center frequented by Black’s goers. A police squad car is on one side of the coin, opposite a purple car that Hopkins said had gold tires and wheels that were large and similar to vehicles driven by blacks in the area. The coin also has police struck numbers on it that refer to southern Dallas.
Introduction Coin showing Dallas Police Department badge With the words “middle south” and “15 years” along the top and bottom.
The South Central Division covers the southern parts of Dallas, including east and southeast O’Cliff and parts of the Red Bird. It includes the area between State Highway 67 to Highway 45.
A screenshot of a Facebook post — shared to a group for members of the Dallas Police Association — stated that the coin was made in honor of the 15th anniversary of the South Central Patrol Division.
Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, said he wasn’t aware of the post until someone brought it to his attention. He said it was “immediately deleted”.
Mata shared the message he sent to members of the Dallas Police Association. He wrote that “when a person or organization commits an error of judgment or error, they must possess it to move forward.” He said he believed the coin and leaflet were made in poor taste and “have no business on the DPA members’ page.”
“I understand that it is my responsibility to maintain the moral compass of the DPA Members Page,” Mata wrote. “I want to apologize to anyone who has been abused or offended by this post, and I pledge to be more diligent in my duties to ensure that this organization and the media sites within it respect all members.”
The author of the Facebook post asked for $10 per coin, and said the coins could be delivered by the first week of October. Those interested in purchasing a coin can pay via Venmo. It is unclear how many coins were sold.
The officer who listed Venmo, Caleb McCollum, could not be reached for comment. Records show that he was assigned to the Southwest Patrol Division. His Venmo account offers payments for various coins, including other league areas. Calculation shows that the person who bought “3x SC Coins” got a refund on Tuesday.
“Officers and the community are asking questions,” Hopkins said. These questions are, is this how white officers in our society view us? Is this the only vision they have of black people? There are so many good things going on in Southern society that this is the only way some people look at us.”
Garcia said that position was removed as soon as commanders were informed of it. He said the commanders learned about it late Tuesday. It was not clear when information about the coin was first published or if the images appeared elsewhere.
Garcia described the Challenge Coin as a commemorative coin that often depicted police departments and “something memorable.” He said they are usually a source of pride and that there is a process “in terms of how to present an appropriate challenge coin,” which he said the police would investigate as part of the investigation. Other agencies and groups also produce Challenge Coins.
He said the officer was immediately told to stop, so he doesn’t think any coins were made. He said that the concerned officer will be dealt with responsibly and quickly. He did not go into details.
“We are hiring from the human race,” the leader said. “I don’t think there’s a police chief in America who’s going to sit here and tell you that no officers have that mindset. That’s what the department does, and what society does, in response…that’s the standard we hold to.”
Dallas police officers have faced criticism in the past regarding racial insensitivity. In 2019, four officers were placed on furlough and more than 20 others were investigated after researchers from the Plain View Project published a database of years of public office positions from officers in eight departments, including Dallas.
Of the 5,000 jobs, more than 300 were Dallas officers who were on active duty at the time. The posts included anti-Islam comments, racist stereotypes and jokes about police brutality. At least 13 officers in Dallas were subsequently disciplined under then-President U Renee Hall.
Recently, police announced they were prioritizing southern Dallas after a spate of shootings there earlier this year, including a mass shooting at a concert and another at a party. Garcia said at the time that officers went out throughout the area to not only get rid of crime, but also spread positivity.
Garcia said Wednesday that the officer’s actions in the currency “affect all of us.”
“We are sometimes our own worst enemy,” Garcia said. “I’ve come out into the community, I’ve seen our honorable men and women give their lives and their passion to our residents no matter what beautiful, diverse city we have here.”
Council members Tinnel Atkins and Carolyn King-Arnold, whose areas include parts of southern Dallas, spoke at Wednesday’s press conference with the Chief of Police, Hopkins and other police and fire chiefs to denounce the currency.
Atkins said the officer should be fired. He said the currency betrayed the population and now he has to figure out what he’s going to say to people when they ask if they can trust the Southern Central Patrol Division or anyone in uniform. Hopkins, president of the Black Police Association, said he also believed the officer should not be on the force.
“He should go,” Atkins said of the officer. “We shouldn’t tolerate this.”
Arnold said she was also upset that this happened after years of police work in the neighborhood and attempts to strengthen the bonds between the police and the community. She said the bond was broken with that coin.
“Obviously we still have a culture that we have to confront,” she said. “Right now in Dallas, we’re focused on racial equality, to remove some of the systemic practices that have been with us for years. So today is a day for us to reassess what we’re going for from here.”
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