Officer Death Prompts Policy Changes in Dallas

Senior Corporal Norman Smith of the Dallas Police Department was gunned down on January 6 as he and fellow members of the Gang Unit went to a known drug hangout to serve an arrest warrant for aggravated assault. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Police Department is implementing new policies designed to enhance officer safety during these types of high-risk situations, the Dallas Morning News reports.

The new policy sharply limits the number of officers who can serve arrest warrants on suspects considered dangerous. These officers are required to undergo specialized, ongoing training and to wear bullet-proof vests when executing a felony warrants. The new rules also require that officers knock and announce that they are police.

The moves were generally praised by both law enforcement training experts and police association leaders. “It’s a smart move to have a protocol in place,” Ed Nowicki, executive director of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, told the paper. “Nobody wants to see an officer lose his life in the line of duty, but his death would be even more for naught if something didn’t change,” he added.

Sergeant Sheldon Smith, executive first vice president of the Black Police Association (and no relation to Senior Corporal Smith), said the changes will make the department safer and more efficient. “In the past, because we run so many warrants, we’ve taken it for granted that everything is going to be OK. As we’ve seen … things can change in the blink of an eye.”

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