Black ministers’ message in South Dallas: We need our police

 

The gathering of a handful of preachers outside the True Lee Baptist Church in south Dallas would have been easy to miss.

It was just a few men together on a chilly morning, most with a fair bit of gray in their hair, standing in front of a couple of cameras talking about the community they have served together and closer to two for more than a century.

Sometimes it was hard to hear. Their voices were low. They didn’t have megaphones. There weren’t any crowds singing back their expressions.

But what they had to say should be heard and remembered the next time it is claimed that they are speaking for an entire church and saying that the police in general is the problem and needs to be defused, replaced, or disempowered.

The message from these ministers was far more nuanced and ultimately more valuable in addressing the serious police and crime problems of this nation.

Yes, there are bad cops, they said. We agree that the police must have better training in how to interact with the community, and they must take advantage of that training regardless of the neighborhood in which the police are operating. There are problems that urgently need to be addressed.

But even if we need to improve policing, we also need the police. Crime is a devastating problem. Specifically, murder that terrorizes the people of South Dallas.

Pastors and leaders included Rev Donald Parish, the second of three generations of True Lee pastoral leaders; the Rev. Lelious Johnson of St. Paul Baptist Church; the Rev. Todd Atkins of the Salem Institutional Baptist Church; and Emery Tease, elder of the Dallas West Church of Christ.

“As a community, we take responsibility, we take responsibility, and we also take the responsibility of working with our neighbors, working with our homeowners’ associations, working with nonprofits, working with churches and our police department to ensure that everyone involved is working together The joy and peace of going outside to the store without the fear of being run over by someone who races or tries to commit a violent crime, ”said Atkins.

Tease pointed to drug and alcohol addiction across the city as the leading cause of violence, struggle and pain. The answer is jobs and a stronger sense of community, he said.

The mistake is simply to blame the police, the ministers said.

“We recognize that strong policing is required in our community,” Parish said. “But it’s a one-way street. It’s a partnership with our police force. The community police were a great model. We know the officers; We have a relationship with them. With the rise in murder and violence, it shows that we need more police help. But we want you to be a partner with us. We don’t want them to come in and feel like they don’t have the community’s support. “

What a very different message than the one that hit the headlines this summer. These pastors greet officers, and they said they also greet state troops because they understand that the crisis in their community is criminal violence. They want to work with the police, build trust and improve policing, and they see a real danger in breaking that working relationship.

And they understand that the community suffers while criminals are empowered.

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