DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – “I’m not having it… it’s not going to continue on my watch.”
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia moved swiftly on Wednesday to condemn a ‘challenge coin’ that a white officer working in the department’s South Central Division was attempting to circulate. The images on the coin, a culmination of racist stereotypes appearing to mock the Oak Cliff community.
“This coin and it’s references… represent a drug dealer called ‘doughboy’,” explained Black Police Association President Terrance Hopkins. “This character has gold teeth, a grill, an AK 47 assault rifle in one hand and a stack of cash in the other hand.”
Hopkins went on to say that not every officer with a gun and badge deserves either. “Our job is to have the trust of you guys… someone who has those thoughts? Not good enough to be policing you.”
Although the officer’s name has been circulating online, the department has not released it. The officer has been placed on leave, pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
“We could be talking about having one of the safest summers that we’ve had in the city of Dallas in years,” said Garcia at an afternoon press conference at Black Police Association headquarters, “but all of that changes on the actions of one, that affects us all. We are our own worst enemy at times.”
Chief Garcia said command staff took action as soon as they were made aware that the coin was being offered for sale and they don’t believe that any of the offensive ‘challenge coins’ were produced.
Still, some community members said the sentiments behind the images are the real challenge.
“It’s showing racism, and that is the problem,” said community activist M. Joyce Brown.
Brown said the offensive coin will make it more difficult for police to build bridges in minority communities.
“That’s what really hurts – people that do not trust the police department, will say you’re just giving me proof of why I shouldn’t support them,” explained Brown, “they’re all the same.”
And Hopkins agrees that accusations of racism within the department brings consequences for them all.
“I don’t need any more officers shot at or attacked because one person shared his opinion or view of what we call… the southern sector,” Hopkins said.
Telling the community “this is not what we stand for,” Chief Garcia apologized to the Oak Cliff community and promised to hold the officer accountable.
“We hire from the human race, and I don’t think there’s a police chief in America that will tell you that they don’t have officers that may have this mentality. It’s what the department does, that the community does in response…we will hold ourselves accountable when we are wrong. We are wrong in this particular case, and it will be dealt with.”
Meanwhile, Brown has a message for that officer: “You thought it was funny… not funny. It hurts, not just police… but the entire community.”